Loaves and Fishes
“Give them some food yourselves.” Jesus’ words to his disciples were surprising, challenging, and seemingly impossible. They responded as most of us would have, taking a quick inventory of their resources and realizing their limitations. In making such an outrageous suggestion Jesus was trying to get his students to live by faith not by sight. As St. Paul would often refer to in his letters, Jesus was trying to get the disciple to be transformed by a renewal of their minds (Rom. 12:2), to no longer behave like unspiritual men, but as spiritually minded disciples (1 Cor. 2:14-16).
It is important to keep in mind when the feeding of the multitude took place. Sunday’s reading was taken from Luke 9:10-17. Leading up to this event, the disciples had witness Jesus calming the storm (Luke 8:22-25), a woman healed just by touching is garment (Luke 8:43-48) and Jesus raising a girl from the dead (Luke 8:49-56). Furthermore, the disciples had just returned to Jesus after he had sent them out on mission to heal the sick, cast out demons, and proclaim the Gospel (Luke 9:1-6). Jesus had shared his authority with them, and this was a chance for them to step up and use that authority to complete the task he had given them to feed the crowd.
Although the disciples were in close relationship with Jesus, they had not yet received the fullness of the Holy Spirit which would come at Pentecost. Not being fully renewed in their minds, they defaulted to relying on their own abilities and resources. Jesus then gives us a image of what life in the Spirit will be like through the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Acting with the Holy Spirit, knowing that in the Kingdom of God there is no lack of resources he provides for the crowd. Even in this miraculous act, he does not leave the disciples to be mere spectators. He still works the miracle through them, “he gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.” He demonstrated to them, that when they partner with him nothing is impossible.
Is there something in your life that seems too big for you to handle? Do you look at your limited gifts, abilities, or resources and wonder what you have to offer? When we open ourselves to surrendering to God and offering him the little we do have, there is nothing he can’t do. His resources are limitless. His desire to bless others through us is greater than our desire to see him do it. All it takes to see the impossible is to offer our little loaves and fishes and then do whatever he tells us.