Several years ago, a pastor asked a young girl to name her favorite gospel. She said she liked the story about Jesus getting the people to share their lunch. It took him a minute to understand that she was referring to the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish.
We could approach this miracle from different points of view. Jesus could have made as many loaves and fish as he wanted. Yet he wanted to use the resources available to feed people. This is the way God works.
God uses us with our limited gifts, talents and resources to provide for others.
In St. John’s gospel, it’s possible Andrew knew only of the young boy with the five loaves and two fish when he remarked that it was all the food available to feed the throng. It is hard to believe that in a crowd of more than 5,000 people no one thought about bringing food along on the journey.
Notice that Jesus does not gripe or complain because they do not have enough to feed for the crowd. With God, all things are possible. Jesus taught us to look at what we have, not what is lacking. God usually enters our world through positive people who are willing to share their lunch.
We have all experienced how open hearts often create the realization that there is enough for everyone. Perhaps a greater miracle than making many loaves and fish would have been to open the hearts of those who had food so that they might share it with those who had none. Changing hearts is at least as miraculous – and even more magnificent – than multiplying loaves.
We have all been in need of nourishment from time to time. We may not have starved for grub for the stomach – though that, too, is quite possible.
In one way or another, we have been hungry for affection, for someone to listen, for someone to care.
We also have a hunger for God.
As children, we did nothing to earn our food, but we were fed. Others who’ve reached out to us to feed our many hungers throughout the years did not necessarily owe us. In other words, people have shared their lunch with us even when we did not earn it. Now, perhaps we belong to the group that has both loaves and fish.
One day, a woman responded to a food drive and was writing out a check. She had tears in her eyes when she said, “For the past few years, I have been a recipient of this program. I did not have two nickels to rub together, and I have two children. The hardest part was listening to people talking about ‘people like me who took something for nothing.’
“Some days, holding up my head was difficult,” she added. “However, I finished school and, finally, got a job that pays adequately, and now I can be in the program as a contributor. I only hope that the person who receives whatever food this check can buy knows that it comes from a grateful person who understands.”
When she left, everyone around her had tears in their eyes. She had not only brought money for soup and other food, but she had become chicken soup for the soul.
God is running a program for the hungry but chooses not to operate it alone. He is asking that we share our few fish and whatever bread we have. He can make that stretch beyond our wildest imagination.
God is assuring us that in the process we will not starve. In fact, we will be feeding our own souls as we reach out to feed the bodies and the souls of those around us.