Isaiah 55:1-3; Rom 8:35, 37-39; Mt 14:13-21
At a church meeting a very wealthy man rose to tell the rest of those present about his Christian faith. “I’m a millionaire,” he said, “and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life. I remember that turning point in my faith. I had just earned my first dollar and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and had to either give it all to God’s work or nothing at all. So at that moment I decided to give my whole dollar to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today.”
He finished and there was an awed silence at his testimony as he moved toward his seat. As he sat down a little old lady sitting in the same pew leaned over and said to him: “I dare you to do it again.”
The common theme of today’s readings is the provident care of a loving and merciful God who generously shares his riches with us, and His invitation to us to practice His sharing love in our lives. After announcing the return of God’s chosen people to their homeland from Babylonian captivity, the prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading concludes his prophecies with God’s invitation to the eschatological banquet. The grace of God is compared to freely given food and drink. In the second reading Paul argues that since God loves us, “nothing can come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Today’s gospel describes how Jesus demonstrates the provident care of God the Father by miraculously feeding a multitude of people in a remote, desolate village called Bethsaida. We must not understand the story by making it just another miracle of Jesus, performed long ago, by which he demonstrated his divinity. That may be part of it, but the message goes much deeper than that. It is all about the inability of humans, in any age, to deal with serious problems without divine help.
A father watched out the kitchen window as his 7 year old son played in the backyard sand box. He watched him moving several large rocks out of the sandbox. There was one very big rock that was giving his little boy a great deal of trouble. He watched his son move the rock to the edge of the sandbox, but each time it looked like he would be over to move the rock over the side of the sandbox, the rock would fall back into the sandbox. The last time it fell, it pinched one of his little fingers. The father walked out to his tearful son and asked him what was the matter. His son told him all about the heavy rock in the sandbox. The father asked, “Why didn’t you use all the strength you had?” The little boy replied, “I did dad, I did.” The father responded, “No son, you didn’t ask your dad.” And with that the father reached down and together he and his son removed the rock from the sandbox.
So often we forget this crucial step. Seeking God’s help. Like the boy in the sandbox we struggle with the immovable object in our own strength, forgetting our most important resource is Jesus.
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” God blesses those who share their talents, with loving commitment. This is illustrated by Mother Teresa who went to serve the slum-dwellers of Calcutta with just twenty cents in her pocket. When she died forty-nine years later, God had turned her original twenty cents into eighty schools, three hundred mobile dispensaries, seventy leprosy clinics, thirty homes for the dying, thirty homes for abandoned children and forty thousand volunteers from all over the world to help her.
Often we give 100s of excuses when we are asked for help. We may say, “I do not have enough money or talent to make any difference.” But we need to remember those five loaves of bread and two fish just a lunch pack of a small boy could feed such a great crowd.
The Bible guarantees that every believer has at least one gift from the Holy Spirit. This is our one “tiny fish”. Perhaps “our fish” is not money, but it is a talent or an ability that God has given us. We all have something. Let us offer everything to God saying, “Here is what I have Lord, use it.” And He will, blessing it and amplifying it beyond our expectations.
As individuals, as communities and as a world, we suffer all kinds of hunger – for food, for love, for peace. God is able and willing to satisfy all our hungers. But God is waiting for men and women who believe enough to give up their lunch pack, their “five loaves and two fish,” which God needs to make the miracle possible.