July 29, 2018
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 KGS 4:42-44 PS 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18 EPH 4:1-6 JN 6:1-15
Today we heard the Gospel of Jesus feeding the multitude with the loaves and fishes. It’s a familiar story to many of us sitting in the pews. We’ve heard it so many times that it almost doesn’t seem miraculous any longer. Of course Jesus would see to their needs, that’s what he does.
Living in a time where food is super-abundant, we hardly pause at the wonder of his being able to feed so many people so easily. We see more food than what’s discussed as being a miraculous amount of food every time we go to the grocery store, which can make it difficult to put into perspective how small the amount of food that Jesus had to work with really was.
The loaves from the Gospel weren’t the large Wonder Bread sized loaves we are used to. The loaves the boy was carrying that day were small cakes made from flour, water, a dab of oil, and maybe a pinch of salt. They were a poor boy’s lunch, and a pretty meager one at that.
Jesus stood before that large crowd of people, took that pitifully small lunch, and fed them all. He used the small and unimpressive to satisfy the hunger of thousands.
It is the same when he calls any one of us to usefulness. It is rare for God to call the mighty, the wealthy, and the wildly talented. Instead, he seems to call the small, the unlikely, and the unimpressive to our eyes. He calls forth the people who initially don’t seem that they would be enough to satisfy a world that is hungering for Truth and for Him. God takes the ordinary people and, through His grace, their efforts multiply to touch those around them.
Imagine how different the story of the Loaves and Fishes would have been if the boy had refused to hand over the small amount of food that he had because he was afraid of going hungry and not having enough for himself. Five thousand men and their families would have gone hungry that day. They would have missed hearing the Word of God as it was spoken because they would have been out searching for a meal instead. Of all of the people there (and you can’t tell me no one else had a sack lunch that they hid from view, not trusting Jesus with the little they had) this boy was the only one who offered Jesus all that he had to give, and Christ matched his generosity, feeding the multitude until everyone was filled, including the boy.
Who will we be when Christ calls to us? Will we sit hiding the small bit that we have put by, or will be be like the young man who selflessly handed over the tiny bit that he had? Will we offer to Jesus our meager smallness and allow him to bring forth plenty from our own simple efforts?