Yesterday’s Gospel reading is a story we hear many times throughout our life growing up with the Church.
Catholics love this story! It’s Eucharistic, full of the symbolism we love, and it reminds us of the good old days when people crowded into one area, sitting down knee-to-knee to pay attention to Jesus.
From the John account of this story, we learn that the crowd was at least 5000 men full. We stand in awe at Jesus’ ability to turn five loaves and two fish into enough to feed his listeners.
Many find themselves defending the miraculous and others try explaining a logical reason that He made the food multiply. As my priest mentioned in the homily yesterday, we tend to get caught up in the miraculous and “the proof” upholding the story.
We worry about defending a miracle. We trip up in the face of the hard questions.
Perhaps those in the crowd packed a bag of food to feed their families. Perhaps they shared with those around them, enriching the miraculous with selflessness like Jesus preached. Maybe the Gospel writers just neglected to report that Bartholomew/Nathaniel went on a pizza run.
Rather than concentrating on the miracle, an integral part of the life and mission of Jesus Christ, let’s consider the other factors. What can we absolutely recognize in the account?
Five-thousand men walked to a deserted area, listened to Jesus, mimicking what we now recognize as a Sunday church service. It was not the Sabbath, otherwise someone would be up in arms about Jesus speaking to the crowds or performing a miracle.
Therefore, we can conclude these people either walked away from their normal work duties, leaving the fish sorting for later, or spent their limited free time with the teacher from Nazareth.
No one had a college degree. Their country was occupied by Rome and they were also ruled by the high-ranking Jewish priests. No one had an easy life, yet they carved out the time to listen to Jesus preach.
How often do we do that? We have a whole faith tradition and several community pockets supporting our belief system and we still struggle to make time for Him.
These people just thought he was a good teacher; they had no reason but His caring speech to project that He was as special as He was.
|(I don’t own the rights)|
Do we treat time with Jesus like these first listeners did? To what activities in our lives do we dedicate that time?
Often, I’m quick to miss Mass because it’s inconvenient. When I was swimming, I missed Mass every single weekend I had a swim meet.
Sometimes we easily convince ourselves that God will Love us whether or not we make it to Mass to share in the Word and Eucharist. We’re fortunate, because He will Love us, no matter what we do.
But since when do we want to give Him “just enough?”
Leave work, leave the things the occupy your mind most of the week, leave your fears about stories such as these. Come join the community of listeners and share in the Eucharistic meal.