This morning’s gospel (MT14:13-21) is the familiar recounting of the miracle of the loaves and fishes where 5,000 people were fed from 5 loaves and 2 fish – with 12 baskets of food left over at the end. It’s a great story but we often miss one particular segment that I think is very instructive for us. The disciples come to Jesus to tell him that it was getting late and he should tell the vast crowd who had come for healing to disperse and go to the villages to buy food for themselves and then – it is implied – go home. Jesus was having none of it. “There is no need for them to go away,” he said. “Give them something to eat yourselves.” This line is instructive for me for two reasons. First, the disciples were probably tired and hungry themselves, wanting to call it a day – and maybe at least some of them were feeling protective of Jesus, thinking that he had worked hard enough for one day. Sometimes it’s hard to keep going when we’re tired, even if the benefit of our service is great. Secondly, Jesus was obviously calling them to think outside the box – as we are often challenged in situations of service. Most likely he saw in them potential that they themselves could not see and he wanted to push them just a little toward generosity and unitive thinking. He was obviously the one who made the miracle possible, but my guess is they were shocked into recognition that they had to be more than they knew they were if they were going to be companions of this unusual teacher.
Today, it behooves us to stay awake to those opportunities to go out of ourselves for others, seeing ways to help that may perhaps culminate in miracles.