We might forget to pray but we never forget to eat. The need to eat and drink is basic to all humans, regardless of language, culture or religion. The majority of us are accustomed to breakfast, lunch and dinner. The folks who had followed Jesus might have even skipped a meal to get an early start. Nature called and there was no food in sight.
Perhaps they thought that they would have been back for mealtime. Jesus was teaching, healing the sick, and answering questions. The people were drawn to His words. Apparently they lost track of time. We can imagine that the children were the first to ask the parents for nourishment. No doubt that Jesus saw the worried look on people’s faces. They were in the middle of nowhere. Notice that none of the people asked for anything from Jesus. They didn’t make demands—“You brought us out here, now feed us!” Our Lord took the initiative, as He does in our lives too. He knows what we need even before we ask. Naturally there was some dissention in the ranks. Philip saw the feeding of so many as an impossible task. He probably thought about his pocket—that fact that maybe he didn’t have much money. “Not even two hundred day’s wages worth of food would be enough for each to have a little.” Ever been faced with an impossible task? Ever had the feeling that you weren’t going to endure a particular challenge? Quite frankly, some situations are impossible, if left alone. Only with God’s help can we hope to survive. For example, the death of someone we love; the rejection that comes from divorce; the pain associated with illness. We cannot keep our head above water without God’s help. And when we need a miracle, a miracle can happen—just like in the Gospel. From only a few fish and a little bread more than five thousand people ate and had food left over—that’s a miracle.
Truth is that every time we sit down to eat and have enough to eat we are partaking of God’s generosity to us. If we think that somehow we have earned what is going into our mouth—that we’ve worked hard—that we deserve what we have—then we have forgotten who is the Creator of the blessings we have received. Everything is gift, especially our food. Always a good idea to pray before we eat and after we eat. About 50% of the world’s population goes to bed hungry every night.
Consider the abundance that our disposal—a typical meal at a restaurant. Once food is placed at our table, either it is consumed or the food has to be thrown away. Trashcans are full of food that others would love to eat. We can point fingers and blame governments, schools, bad parenting—ultimately the responsibility belongs to each of us—because we all eat—we are all connected. Sad to realize that there is enough food in the world so that no one needs to be hungry. The part that’s missing is the sharing. The boy in the Gospel was asked to share his lunch and apparently he did. He could have said no. How many times have we been asked to share? How many times have there been opportunities for us to give to someone who is in need? Just like the little boy in the Gospel we can be agents for a miracle to happen. We have many generous people in our community who are giving marvelous example to us and to their children by feeding the hungry. They go out and buy food, money from their pocket and hand-deliver the food to homeless people. If that isn’t Christianity in action then I don’t know what is! Jesus used the disciples to distribute the loaves and the fish. The Lord now uses us to feed the poor.
The best food is the Eucharist. If we allow, the Eucharist will help us to be more like Christ.