Friday, April 20, 2012

Loaves and fishes

Sometimes a closer look at a Gospel text – together with a change of context – makes the Scripture message come alive.

Today’s Gospel is an example. I read the commentary in  Bible Diary 2012 and then went to Dulce Nombre where the Parish Council meeting began with a reading and discussion of the Gospel.

Today’s Gospel of John’s account of the multiplication of the loves and fishes (John 6: 1-15) has some very suggestive elements:

• Jesus looks at the people and wants to help. Our God is a compassionate God. He asks his disciples to feed them.

• We don’t have the money to buy, say the apostles.
“Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough…”
Scarcity and money are the prevailing attitudes of the apostles.

• But there’s this little boy with two fish and five barley loaves.
"There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
A little boy – not one of the five thousand guys there, but an insignificant kid.

• Barley loaves:
Yuck; it's not wheat. It’s tough. It’s like tortillas made of sorghum, I suggested.

• “What good are these for so many?”
Again the apostles think in terms of scarcity: this can be enough?

• Jesus has the people recline – about five thousand men, and God knows how many women and children. And it was a kid who shared the bread and fish.

•And Jesus “gave them as much as they wanted.”
Enough for everyone.

•Gather the leftovers:-twelve baskets full
"Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted."
 Don't waste: share.

• Let’s make him king:
The people wanted to take him by force and make him king.
Jesus resisted these efforts. With him as king the people would have everything they needed for free – even if was only barley bread and fish. As some one suggested at the Parish Council meeting they’d be dependent on Jesus the king to supply their [perceived] needs.

God works through little things – little kids and a few loaves and fish – and does marvels. But humans either are stuck in their emphases on scarcity or they want a miracle worker – a political savior – who will make everything right, without their effort, without their meager contribution.

Is this a parable for today?

1 comment:

Charles said...

One way to read the story is that it does not involve what we generally call a miracle.

Jesus shares and there is a sufficiency. Could this have been because other people, inspired by His example, reached into their hidden stores and also shared?

Of course, sharing is a miracle: love.