One body and one Spirit (Eph 4, 4)
Jesus is our shepherd. We will lack nothing if we remain united to him.
Jesus goes with his disciples to a foreign territory. A large crowd follows him.
But the multitude poses a problem: “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” Thus simply assents Philip, without pretensions of deep reasoning. He does not see any test in Jesus’ question.
Andrew, less reserved, intervenes: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish.” He adds, “But what good are these for so many?”
Jesus does not dismiss the volunteered information or the loaves and fish. He seizes the slight opening to generosity. He takes the loaves, gives thanks, and distributes them to those reclining on green pasture. He does the same with the fish. And almost before anyone knows it, the crowd eats its fill.
This new sign so convinces the people that they want to make Jesus king. We are not told, however, what the sign precisely consists in.
Do the loaves and fish multiply as they are being passed from hand to hand? If it is so, then undoubtedly we are dealing here with an obvious miracle that surpasses the prophet Elisha’s.
But do not the loaves and fish increase because others, drawn by the boy’s example, keep taking out of their sacks the food they have in order to share it? If this is the case, then the multitude that causes a problem turns into an opportune solution. And is it not equally wonderful that those who are troubled and left to fend for themselves, like sheep without a shepherd, get to be delivered from worrying about their own survival and open their hearts to those with nothing? Pope Francis puts it this way: “Jesus generated a kind of electrical current among his followers, as they shared what they had, made it a gift for others ….”
What a surprise indeed that those who are only focused on their own interests suddenly discover that sure salvation lies in looking out, in imitation of Jesus, for the interests of others! Being of one heart and mind, having concern for one another and with the surplus of some of us supplying the needs of others, in the manner of Ngäbe families, we make clear that indeed the Eucharist “draws us out of our individualism.”
United to Christ, we remain assured of the grace that, according to St. Vincent de Paul, “has its beginning and its progress” (SV.FR III:147). With grace, our contributions are of great value though they are perhaps as small as leftover fragments that are collected so that nothing may go to waste.
Lord, look kindly on our littleness and make great accomplishments out of the little we contribute.
Ross Reyes Dizon