BIBLE READINGS: Ephesians 3:14-21 John 6:1-21
In this reading, we hear of one of Jesus’ most famous, most recounted and remembered of miracles - the feeding of the multitudes with 5 barley loaves and two fishes. As told by St. John, this version contains an interesting detail. When Jesus sees the crowd of well over 5,000 (considering that was only the number of men – with women and children, the crowd was probably well over 15,000) He shows his love, his concern and makes it clear that he wishes to get them something to eat. Turning to his closest followers, his inner circle, his apostles, Andrew seems to be the only one with any ideas (the others are probably thinking, as we hear in the other gospels, to send them home thinking the crowd is to big). Andrew points out that a young boy has come forward and offered all that he had: 5 loaves and 2 fish. But as soon as Andrew acknowledges this offer, very quickly, he dismisses it as inadequate saying "what good are these for so many?"
How often in our land of plenty and abundance do we look at the material things we possess as inadequate as we almost get into this competition of sorts with one another.
But more personally, more directly: how often do we see the gifts, the talents, the abilities that we possess as "not good enough?" Sometimes it’s out of fear, embarrassment – where we’ve determined what we possess isn’t as good as it should be or worse out of comparing ourselves to others what we possess isn’t as good as somebody else.
Have you ever heard someone say they can’t volunteer to help because "they’re not good enough" or who won’t try because "there’s people who do it better than I do." People will skip opportunities to help because they are frustrated with all that needs doing and challenge "what can one person do?"
One lesson this Gospel tries to point out is that it’s not about us. We can get so worked up trying to evaluate things conceiving a plan, speculating how things will work out (and in the process, undermine how blessed we truly are as we compare ourselves to others) that we can get overwhelmed, doubtful in our faith and stifling ourselves into inaction.
Yet look at how Jesus takes this nameless boy’s example to speak to us today. If like him, we simply, humbly offer to Jesus all that we have, all that we possess, all that we are - it is then that He is able to work miracles through us and with us.
If that were something that was lived by every disciple, then this wouldn’t be simply a miracle story we recount once a year, remembering this one day where a multitude of people had their physical hunger alleviated. It would be a model of how Jesus Christ continues to transform the hearts of his believers and the world around them. Jesus would continue to be working miracles, fulfilling the deeper hungers, alleviating the spiritual and physical malnourishment that so many are suffering simply because we’ve been stuck asking ourselves as we look at our gifts, our talents, our possessions - "What good are these?"
Jesus is willing to show us exactly how good they are, if only we would be willing to share them.
Acknowledgement: Fr. Jim Chern