The hunger in our world today is all too real and painful. But there are other hungers too -hunger for peace and security, hunger for justice, hunger for help and comfort in difficulties and, perhaps the strangest and deepest of all, the hunger for happiness. This invitation is directed to those who hunger and thirst for any of these. Man yearns for these more than for food.Fr. Dumlesi N. Tor
(Isa 55:1-3, Rom 8:35, 37-39, Matt 14:13-21)
Today we celebrate the great love of God that not only gives us life, but also sustains the life with the food of the Eucharist (the heavenly banquet). The words of the first reading are an open invitation to the Israelites, who have known such a miserable existence during the Exile, to partake in banquet of rich food. While the corn, wine and milk that is freely offered may refer in first instance to these foods in a material sense, the invitation to ‘come to the water’ echoes language associated in other parts of scripture with the call of Wisdom to her feast (Prov 3; 8; Sir 4; Jn 7:37-39).
The hunger in our world today is all too real and painful. But there are other hungers too -hunger for peace and security, hunger for justice, hunger for help and comfort in difficulties and, perhaps the strangest and deepest of all, the hunger for happiness. This invitation is directed to those who hunger and thirst for any of these. Man yearns for these more than for food. This suggests that what is really on offer is a divine enhancement of life for which, in the depths of their being, most people thirst. All forms of spirituality, all techniques of prayer, seek to tap this source of life, which is the gift of God alone and which, like a perpetual spring of water, is freely given.
In the gospel, we see a food crisis. About five thousand people to eat. There were only five barley loaves and two fish to be served. Barley loaves were the food of the poor. Three barley loaves would fill the daily food requirements of one person. What the boy had was barely enough for his own family. But he shared what he had. The willingness of the boy to share what he had makes the story evergreen and relevant. The boy, five loaves and two fishes are symbols in the hands of Jesus to show that out of very little, great things can happen. Through our selfless sharing we can bring change to the world.
The enemy of true discipleship is superficiality. We are constantly invited not to “spend our money” on distraction, which only hides our true need from ourselves. At Mass, we thank God for providing us with heavenly food, but do we still realize the urgency of Jesus’ command: “Give them something to eat yourselves”. Why wait any longer? How long are we going to tolerate so much waste, while people struggle to get minimal food just to survive? Now is the time to do something.
It takes little imagination to picture the embarrassing plight of the disciples. Here were more than 5,000 hungry people and they had nothing to feed them! Certainly, the disciples knew that Jesus was powerful enough to meet the need, yet they did not turn to Him for help. Instead, they took inventory of their own food supply (a lad had five barley loaves and two fish) and their limited treasury When they considered the time (evening) and the place (a desolate place), they came to the conclusion that nothing could be done to solve the problem. Their counsel to the Lord was: “Send them away!”
Jesus watched His frustrated disciples as they tried to solve the problem, but “He Himself knew what He was intending to do” (Jn 6:6). He wanted to teach them a lesson in faith and surrender. Note the steps we must take in solving life’s problems.
Start with what you have. Andrew found a lad who had a small lunch, and he brought the lad to Jesus. Was the boy willing to give up his lunch? Yes, he was! God begins where we are and uses what we have.
Give what you have to Jesus. Jesus took the simple lunch, blessed it, and shared it. The miracle of multiplication was in His hands! “Little is much if God is in it.” Jesus broke the bread and gave the pieces to the disciples, and they, in turn, fed the multitudes.
Obey what He commands. The disciples had the people sit down as Jesus ordered. They took the broken pieces and distributed them and discovered that there was plenty for everybody. As His servants, we are “distributors, not “manufacturers.” If we give what we have to Him, He will bless it and give it back to us for use in feeding others. When we start calculating, measuring, and counting, we will never have enough. When we share what we have, even if it is very little, it becomes enough to satisfy many and there is always more than we need. Jesus is inviting each one of us to cooperate with him in working miracles by sharing what we have.
Jesus is the Bread of Life, and only He can satisfy the spiritual hunger in man’s heart. The tragedy is, men waste their time and money on “that which is not bread” (Isa 55:1-7). People today are making the same mistake. It is a scandal that so large a part of today’s world is made up of hungry people. Most of us have more than we need of money, clothes, food, etc. We may not have as much as we want, but we have more than we need. There is a struggle here, and there is a tension from which we cannot escape. The decisions to walk in the Christian Way remove many of the options and choices. Christianity is much more than just saying prayers. It is also a call to action. It is a call to do as Jesus would do.
Jesus still has compassion on the hungry multitudes, and He still says to His church: “Give them something to eat.” How easy it is for us to send people away, to make excuses, to plead a lack of resources. Jesus asks that we give Him all that we have and let Him use it as He sees fit. A hungry world is feeding on empty substitutes while we deprive them of the Bread of Life. When we give Christ what we have, we never lose. We always end up with more blessing than when we started.
May God help us to smiles on the faces of those we encounter daily as we share with them not just bread but also joy, peace, and comfort. Amen.
Peace be with you!
Fr Dumlesi N. Tor
St Mary’s Okwuzi