Sunday, 26 July 2015

transforming life through generosity - Feeding of the multitude

In the story of the feeding of the multitude we read of how in spite of the rational, understandable doubt expressed by the disciples the impossible is made possible. From small beginnings Jesus is able to manifest his glory, a little faith goes a long way just as a few loaves and fishes feed the multitude.

Despite these small beginnings, the hungry are fed,
and there are leftovers - indeed in the story involving Jesus there is an abundance of leftovers - there is more than when the feast first began.

The feeding of the multitude, as John calls it, is the only miracle that
Jesus did that is described in all four gospels.  For this reason, if no
other, we need to pay close attention to it.  We need to ask ourselves - why
is this so?  What is it about this miracle - unlike all the other miracles
performed by Jesus - that so catches the attention of all the gospel writers.

I think it has to do with at least three separate things.

The first is the fact that this story tells us that Jesus is used by God -
he has God's blessings, remember at his baptism the voice of God is heard declaring to the world that here is God’s son the beloved in whom he is pleased, and is able to feed the hungry - much as
the people of Israel were fed by God in the wilderness with Manna.

In fact John goes on after the telling of this story to speak of Jesus as the
bread of heaven come down to earth - the one who is not only able to satisfy
the physical hunger of his people - but their spiritual hunger as well.

Jesus has, and is able to use, the power of God to feed the hungry.

The second thing is that the story shows us not only God's power at work in
Jesus, but also God's care for us.  God reaches out through Jesus to meet the needs of those who are following him.

Jesus cares for those who seek him out.  He wants to meet their needs, and he
instructed his disciples, and so he instructs you and I his church, to work together to ensure that the needs of those around us, the multitude are met.

The third thing is that the story shows us is that Jesus is able to take what
is offered to him and to multiply it - so that where there first seemed not
enough it ends up by being more than enough.

There is a story of a man named Paul.

   Paul had received a special pre-Christmas gift from his brother.  It
   was a beautiful new car - fully loaded and ready to go.  On Christmas
   Eve, when Paul came out of his office, a street kid was walking around
   the shiny new car, admiring it.  "Is this your car, mister?", the kid
   asked.  When he replied that it was., and that his brother had given
   it to him for Christmas, the boy said, "You mean your brother gave it
   to you, and it didn't cost you anything?  Free?  For Nothing?  Gosh,
   I wish..."

   The boy hesitated, and Paul knew what he was about to say.  He had
   heard it many times over the past few days.  He was going to wish he
   had a brother like that.  But what the boy said shocked Paul.

   "I wish", the boy said, "I wish I could be a brother like that."

We can be a brother like that.  Or a sister like that.
All it takes is that we offer ourselves and what we have to God.
All it takes is that we cease to worry about how little we have
and begin instead to think about what it is that we can offer.

Praise be to God who multiplies that which is given to him,
day by day.  Amen.


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