Tuesday after Epiphany
The Feeding of the Five Thousand
Mamie Adams always went to a branch post office in her town because the postal employees there were friendly. She went there to buy stamps just before Christmas one year and the lines were particularly long. Someone pointed out that there was no need to wait on line because there was a stamp machine in the lobby.
“I know,” said Mamie, ‘but the machine won’t ask me about my arthritis.”
Today’s gospel passage is about the multiplication of the loaves. Do you believe that this is true? You know this is the only miracle that Jesus did which is repeated in all four gospels. A crowd gathered to hear Jesus because no doubt they were hungry for God’s word. After Jesus preached, His disciples wanted to send them away because they did not have the resources to feed them. But Jesus took the little they had which were five loaves and two fish, gave thanks to the Father and distributed to all until they were satisfied of their hunger.
What is the significance of this miracle? This feeding shows the remarkable generosity of God and His great kindness towards us. Therefore we can say, the significance is that He gives more than what we need for ourselves that we may have something to share with others especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others.
But a Bible scholar said that the real miracle was when the Jews, known for being-tight-fisted, brought out their food provisions and shared them with those who had none. They saw Christ’s idea of sharing and compassion which is not just feeling sorry for people but a sensitivity that flows into action. The word compassion is derived from the Latin verb pati which means “to suffer” and cum which means “with,” giving its literal translation as “to suffer with.”
As His followers, we too, have to exemplify that virtue of sharing and compassion, even if we cannot perform miracles as He did. Look at the apostles they wanted an easy way out of the situation. They said: “Send them home! Why get involved?” But getting involved is precisely what an apostle is called to do. Look at the scene, Jesus didn’t cast the Apostles to the side; rather, He asked them how much bread they had. Jesus needs their participation to make the miracle. And He needs us to participate to make His miracles too. All it takes is our willingness and generosity. How beautiful life would be if everyone in the family, in workplaces, in our neighborhood know how to feel with, to empathize or put oneself in place of the other.
Somebody also said that our Lord insists that we have to be active protagonists in tackling problems in the world. Many only sigh at the world’s miseries as if to say, “Lord you have problems, I will pray for them.” But Christ looks back and says to us, “Today this is your mission now. I put it in your hands.” Will you panic and wonder where you will get the time, resources and wisdom? Our Lord asks us to take responsibility but does not want us to take control. There is a difference: we are the stewards of the mission and God is the owner.
Give and like Jesus, look at their need and not our own, this is His challenge.