The small gifts that feed the crowd
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (John 6:1-15)
Fil. Mission Sunday
July 29, 2018
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
IT was springtime around the Lake of Gennesareth and in the hearts of the people who followed Jesus. His presence, his words, the miracles he had been performing had aroused in them a joyful expectation never experienced before.
But the vast crowds that kept following Jesus because of the “signs” he had been performing (see Jn 6:2) could become a heavy burden if, by meal time, there was no food at hand, nor money to buy it. The suggestion of the Twelve to dismiss them (see Mt 14:15) is not particularly impressive, though—under the circumstances—could also be seen as prudent and rational.
But Jesus’ plan was different. His perception of the whole situation was different. And in a short while, the disciples found themselves involved in a prodigal distribution of food which left everybody astonished and filled with enthusiasm. The miraculous feeding performed by Elisha (see First Reading) is a far cry from what these five thousand men – not counting the women and children (see Mt 14:21)—experienced by the shore of the Lake of Gennesareth!
One of the decisive factors which made that miracle possible was the generosity of the boy who offered the five barley loaves and the two fish – his “baon” for the day. Of course, Jesus did not need such help. Yet, he did accept that simple gift and made it the starting point for an unprecedented miracle. Those five loaves of bread and two fish, generously placed at the disposal of Jesus, made all the difference that day.
Mankind has been and is periodically tormented by want and famine. Today, the undernourished and the starving have become a huge multitude of some three billion people! It is a figure that defies all contingency plans and demands immediate solution. The root of this tragedy is not scarcity of resources, but lack of wisdom and generosity, coupled with the greed and callousness of a clique of super rich “sharks.” It is not so much a problem of production, as a problem of distribution and solidarity, and even more, a problem of moral sensitivity – a problem of sharing. Actually, it is the lack of it! Too many affluent nations give the crumbs, rather than the full loaves.
What the world needs today is to remember that the fruits of God’s blessings are for all. We Christians have a special responsibility in reminding mankind about this truth, and especially in putting it into practice. We should consider ourselves the descendants of the selfless boy who put his “baon” at the disposal of Jesus.
We are challenged to imitate him. If we do imitate him, then miracles will happen everywhere, every day. Human life will become a perennial miracle of brotherly generosity, with Jesus in the center, multiplying to infinity the wonderful riches of hearts bent on sharing.