Sunday, July 29, 2012
2 Kings 4:42-44 Ephesians 4:1-6 John 6:1-15
This week’s Gospel reading sets the stage for the next few weeks as we hear about Jesus as the “bread of life.” Today’s story about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes in one of the few stories that is included in all four Gospels. John describes how crowds of people are following Jesus because of the miracles he performed in healing the sick. Jesus asks Philip, one of the apostles, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” Philip responds with the daunting facts-“Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” Another apostle, Andrew, offers a seemingly ridiculous option-five loaves of bread and 2 fish to feed more than five thousand people-“what good is that with this huge crowd?”
Jesus accepts this small offering and invites the crowd to sit. He then takes the loaves, gives thanks to God, distributes the food and “all ate as much as they wanted.” There was even enough left over to fill twelve baskets with food.
There are some interesting perspectives from which we can view this miraculous story:
-Jesus was born in Bethlehem-a word that literally means “House of Bread.” Here he provides bread for the crowd, later he provides his very self for everyone.
-How we view any given situation will determine what is possible: Philip was aware of the inadequacy of their resources and deemed it impossible to feed the crowd. Andrew could see the real life problem but also had an inner disposition to look at the food as God’s gift. Jesus accepted the gift, offered gratitude for it and shared it with enough for everyone.
-In any overwhelming circumstance, God invites us to “Bring what you have to me” (even if it is only a few loaves of bread.) Christian writer Barbara Brown Taylor states that is always where to begin-by bringing what we have to God. Perhaps then we can stop waiting for a miracle and participate in one instead. St. Marguerite d’Youville viewed life in a similar way. Though faced with multiple odds against her (not having enough money, people upset with her leadership decisions, rebuilding after two fires), she had an inner disposition to look at the few resources she had as gift and trusted in God’s divine providence to help meet the needs of the poor and vulnerable people she encountered.
Though we face some overwhelming odds during this time of financial constraints and health care reform, we do have many, many gifts in our health system that we can bring to bear, including the dedication and compassion offered by each of our employees, the prayers of the Sisters and others who support us, the legacy of caring entrusted to us, and our mission of healing.