July 26, 2015: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone. (John 6:1-15)
Picture the scene in today’s reading. You are there with friends and family in a big crowd following Jesus to see what he will do today. Everyone is getting hungry, but there is very little food—no restaurants or food-mart gas stations anywhere! But Jesus has a plan. His disciple Andrew tells him about a child with a few loaves of bread and fish, which Jesus suddenly has and shares. What do you think happened in between? Did Andrew snatch away his picnic? Or did Jesus say, “Bring the child to me”? What do you think Jesus said to that lucky kid? Do you think maybe it was something like: “Everyone is hungry. Would you let me share your food with them?” And then did the child stand right next to Jesus and watch him give thanks and bless the bread and fish to be shared with so many people?
This “miracle of the loaves and fishes” is what happens at every Eucharist. From the gifts we bring, Jesus shares himself with every hungry person. There is always enough for everyone. I ask Jesus to help me see the miracles he works and to share the gifts I bring to him and others every day.