Acts 5:34-42; John 6:1-15
Today’s gospel is one of the several “multiplication” stories found in the four accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Each one of them reminds us of the abundance of God’s love for us in the person of Jesus Christ. A pattern emerges in each of the “multiplication” stories: a huge crowd of people are gathered around Jesus looking to him for healing (“about five thousand”); they gather in an open place (“on a mountain”); there is a need to feed the crowd; but without proper resources (“five barley loaves and two fish belonging to a boy in the crowd”); Jesus tells the disciples to distribute the food after he blesses the extremely small amount; the throng is not only satisfied, but there are leftovers (“twelve wicker baskets” full).
These mind-boggling details provide a model for the God’s love and care for His People. That care is expressed abundantly in the action of Jesus towards the people. Just as the people that day on the mountain side needed to be cared for by Jesus and the disciples, so we today need to receive that care at the hands of others. Can we believe that God’s love actually comes to us in the circumstances of our lives?
Jesus invited one of the disciples, Philip, to consider the whole event, “where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” It can’t be done, Philip answers! Then Jesus moves into action with the aid of his disciples and the story unfolds and the people get fed.
How often do we face similar dilemmas in our day-to-day experience? And how often do we answer like Philip – no way can this problem I face or the obstacle that comes my way be solved. We tend to focus more on the problem and get blocked from seeing it through to a solution. We are probably correct in recognizing that there is little that I can do in the face of an overwhelming complication such as the loss of a job, dealing with serious illness (others or mine), doing battle with an addiction, facing the death of a loved one, or any other of the serious issues we contend with.
Our temptation is, like Phillip, to be jostled around by the problem and not to move towards its solution. The solution in this case is the slow and steady response that Jesus initiates resulting in the people’s being fed.
Lord, let me recognize your call and invitation in the events of my life. Be with me particularly when, like Philip and Andrew, I see no solution to situations, circumstances and people that seem to be obstacles rather than opportunities for growth as a person of faith. In this Easter season keep before me of the abundance of your love and care. Let me know you, a loving and gracious God, as the source of all goodness and may I be attentive to the miracles that surround me.
By Tom Shanahan