In today’s gospel we have John’s version of the miraculous feeding of the crowd that gathered to listen to Jesus at the Sea of Galilee (Jn 6:1-15). There are many lessons one can take from this reading. You probably have heard them all. Here’s one to add to the list of examples.
Yesterday I read a chapter of a new book, not yet published, about a couple who took up the task of seeing that homeless people in New York City had something to eat each day – a monumental task, to be sure. Their story put me in mind of John’s gospel and the recognition that perhaps one or two people cannot feed the entire city of New York. They came to that conclusion day by day, finally focusing on what was possible for them, responding in a way that they might not have been able to do if they had not prepared themselves for the “letting go” that became their daily work. One day, when the weather turned foul and they were faced with a man and woman without rain gear, they took off their coats and gave them to the couple, knowing it was the right thing to do. I know this couple and they could well afford to do what they did that day. The important thing, however, was their willingness, a freedom that grew in them as they practiced and came to care for the people they served.
It puts me in mind of our Sisters in Canto Chico, Peru who have been feeding the people in their neighborhood during the pandemic. They cook chickens in a big pot and serve soup to their neighbors who have nothing to eat. It was not the ministry they were prepared for but it became necessary last year. And someone had an over-abundance of chickens to offer to the pot!
We do not have Jesus with us in the flesh today, but we do cherish in our hearts the way he was present to people and do what we can to imitate his generous outpouring of love, feeding people in whatever way we can. Is there something you can do in your neighborhood to alleviate stress and “feed” in some way a neighbor in need? We cannot not save the whole world but even a smile and a kind word would go a long way to light up someone’s life. Stay awake today and see what shows up as a chance to be Christ in a new way in your neighborhood.