Grace to you!
I read the story of the Lord’s feeding of the five thousand (Jn 6:1-15) with fresh excitement this morning. My attention was drawn to some of the actions the Lord Jesus took leading to the miracle.
First, he saw the crowd. He thought of what to do for them. He was empathetic. He was caring. He could see they needed food. He noticed the need. Miracles happen when people see and notice the need. When they are concerned about the welfare of others, when they think of what they can do for others more than what they can do only for themselves. For the life of miracle is the life lived for others.
Next, the Lord set out to do something about the need he identified. He asked a rhetorical question: “Where shall we buy enough food for them to eat?” (Jn 6:5). Scripture says, Jesus knew already what to do. He was inspiring his disciples to buy into what he wants to do. As the leader par excellence, the Lord would want everyone to get onboard with this mission of being a gift, not for oneself alone, but for others. For a fulfilled life is one in which a person pours one’s life in service of others. The Eucharist is life, Christ’s life poured out to be consumed by many, so they will have the fulness of life. It is the self-emptying of the Divine Person which gives life to many.
Philip was doubtful how the poor gang of apostles would have the resources to buy food for numerous people, about five thousand men, excluding women and children. Certainly, the number would run above ten thousand people.
Andrew notices that a boy has five small loaves and two small fish. He, however, was convinced these wouldn’t go anywhere with the teeming population the Lord wants to feed.
The Lord has gotten what he wanted from them. Perhaps, he wants them to pay attention to what they have in hand. They are to intentionally consider the possibility that what they have could be tools for a divine miracle.
Often many miss the opportunity of miracle because they ignore completely what they already have in their hand. Your miracle springs from the little you already have.
We read the parallel story about a miracle of feeding of one hundred people by Prophet Elisha in 2 Kings 4:42-44. Here the prophet asked that the gift of first fruit of twenty loaves of barley, and fresh ears of grainpresented to him by a man, be shared to the gang of prophets. His servant, like Philip and Andrew in the case of Jesus, thought it was ridiculous to offer the bread to a hundred people. Yet, Prophet Elisha, knowing the logic of providence, insisted that what they have must be given because, as he prophesied, the Lord will make it sufficient.
Often, we focus on the lacks, the insufficiencies, and they prevent us from doing great things. The “half-empty-cup” syndrome prevents us from doing the little things that can transform our community and society. We fail to see that with any little things we have, from those seemingly insignificant gifts we bring, God does the miracle.
The Lord Jesus in the story of the feeding of the five thousand shows us how to offer the little for a higher course. “He took the loaves, gave thanks,and distributed them.” This is a gesture strongly related to a signature Jewish rite of “Breaking of Bread.”
In our Christian adaptation, it could be seen as a Eucharistic model of offering. During the Eucharistic celebration, the priest says the following prayer over the gifts to be offered to the Lord. The prayer is similar to the Jewish prayer for the “Breaking of Bread”: “Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given, and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.”
We offer to the Lord what we have. The Lord transforms it for our blessing and the blessing of many.
One of the five main fruits of Eucharistic communion (Holy Communion) is that ‘it commits us to the poor” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1397), meaning that through the power of the Lord’s grace received at Holy Communion, we are to open our hearts to the needs of others, especially the poor, and see Christ in them. We offer any little things we have so many can share in the love of Christ through us.
Miracles happen when people share. Miracles happen when people let go of spiritual hoarding and give Christ a chance to transform their little contributions into an ocean of mercy, love and providence for many.
You and I are agents of miracle if we give thanks in little things and offer them to God in generosity for many.
I pray that you and I may continue to be God’s instrument of providence and love in our communities. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[17thSunday Ordinary Time B: 2 Kgs 4:42-44; Eph 4:1-6; Jn 6:1-15]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.