Today’s readings: Psalms 48; 149, 1 Kings 19:1-8, Ephesians 4:1-16, John 6:1-14
The story of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes appears in all four Gospels, and in the book of Matthew he repeats the miracle a second time. Christians and non-Christians alike understand references to this story. Some theologians interpret the miracle as Jesus magically increasing the supply of bread and fish, while others claim the real miracle is that Jesus inspired people to share with each other what they’d been hoarding.
A pivotal figure in this story is Andrew, the brother of Peter. When Jesus asks where they might buy food to feed the thousands of people gathered around him, the disciple Phillip says they couldn’t buy enough food with six months wages. Andrew, on the other hand, points out that a boy in the crowd has five loaves and two fishes but asks what good they would be among so many people. Why would Andrew have bothered to point out such a measly offering?
It seems that on some level, Andrew trusted Jesus to make do with what was available. On his own he would have never expected what he had to be enough, yet in the end he and the other disciples collected twelve baskets of leftovers.
How often do we feel like Andrew, looking at a seemingly overwhelming problem and wondering if our meager talents and resources could possibly help? In the face of need throughout the world, our ability to draw, bake, shingle a roof, or lend an ear might seem like a raindrop falling on a forest fire … but we should trust God to make do with what we bring to the table – because we bring the gifts he gave us. When hungry people are fed or cold people are clothed, does it matter whether it was supernatural or sharing and division of labor? No, because God’s grace drives the results.
Jesus sends us, equipped just as we are, to feed the multitude. Instead of saying: “This is all I have to offer…” perhaps we could pray: “Thank you Lord for blessing this small gift so that it may accomplish great things in your name.”
Comfort: Even when your gifts seem small to you, God can make great use of them.
Challenge: What talents have you been holding back because you think they’re not good enough? Find a way to put them into service for your community.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for giving me the gifts that are right for me best serve you. Amen.
Discussion: What do you think your gifts are?
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