There is a line from Matthew’s gospel in the story called variously “the loaves and the fishes” or “the feeding of the five thousand” (CH 14) that always goes straight to my heart. It appears today and catches me as usual. It is late in a day that began with Jesus trying to escape the crowds to grieve the death of John the Baptist. Failing that, Jesus responds to the needs in what has turned into a long and likely tiring session of healing people. The narrative picks up with the apostles saying to Jesus that he ought to send the people away because it’s late and there’s no availability of food to buy in the deserted place where they are. They will need to go to one of the villages nearby to buy food. There is no need for them to go away, Jesus says. Give them something to eat yourselves. The gospel continues with the miracle of feeding the whole crowd on five loaves and two small fish.
How often the needs of the world seem that impossible to fulfill! And it is true that we cannot achieve such a goal alone. It will take a monumental – miraculous even – metanoia (conversion) to get our world on track toward the “peaceable kingdom” where all are fed and cared for. My question for today, however, is this: how shall we be until that possibility comes into view? Whom and how am I being asked to feed today? Am I awake to the people who need a kind word or a sandwich to help them through the day? Is it enough that I go through the day mindful of those for whom I have promised to pray? There wasn’t much to go on when Jesus started that “handout” but the result, worked through his helpers, fed them all.
Can we believe that what we have to give is enough?