Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
Sunday’s Gospel reading came from St John’s Gospel; the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1-14). Later he would preach and feed 4000 on the Gentile side of the lake. Both are familiar stories, but ask yourself, what exactly was the miracle that Jesus performed? Did He multiply the loaves and fishes that the boy gave to Andrew so that there was enough for everyone in the community gathered there to eat? Or was the miracle what He taught them? In other words were they fed by the spiritual bread of His teaching? After all: ‘Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’ Matthew 4:4 (NIV).
The boy would have been a poor peasant yet he offered all he had, his only meal of the day to Jesus; and Jesus used it to feed the community. I would like to think that the boy’s charitable action encouraged others to share their food so that all ate that day. Maybe that made some who were thinking of leaving in the community stay or perhaps it encouraged others to join them. Was that the miracle?
Now, I don’t think miracles are time limited since in all the prisoner’s witness statements I have read in Prison Hope each of them was drawn into, led into, a Christian community, by some one person. It may have been through a prison Bible Study group or an Alpha course but it led them to a Christian church on their release. Here is where Jesus’ feeding of the four thousand is relevant for the gift we celebrate receiving at Easter is a gift for all. It is a gift of compassion so freely given to the whole community of men and women throughout the world. It is not just for the “holy” the “elite”, those who attend church regularly every Sunday. Jesus died and was raised from the dead for the great unwashed of the world just as much as for the saintly. Let us thank God for that but let us also remember that as with the prisoners, someone has to lead the unbeliever to Christ. And that is the task that Jesus gives to you and to me. Don’t worry He will walk with you to support and to guide you.
I would like to think that the act of charity shown by that small boy in offering his meagre meal to Jesus for the benefit of so many would inspire us in our endeavours; to devote our lives to God as he did.
So the question then is this. Can you freely accept Jesus’ invitation to change in your life this Lent and help others do so?
Let us pray: May that young boy’s act of charity guide me to live not simply for myself but for all those in need. May my life and actions bring others to Christ today. Amen
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years