July 29 2018 READINGS: 2 Samuel 11: 1-15 ~ Psalm 14 ~ John 6:1-21
Loving God, fill us today with the wonder, the hope and the healing you gave to the 5000, out in the Galilee all those years ago. As you fed them, feed us with the spiritual nourishment only you can give. Teach us each day to follow in the footsteps of our Lord reaching out to those who struggle to feed them as you have fed us. Amen.
We are reminded this morning that our Lord’s work, especially his rabbinical work, his healing and feeding miracles as they occurred amongst those who most needed Him; those who were hungry, both from the perspective of their gut, but also those who were hungry spiritually. He was amongst those who had the deepest of needs.
He became and continues to be a dramatic source of hope and healing to so many, to the extent that the crowds followed Him everywhere. Their yearning for salvation was great indeed.
It was a prescientific world. One’s woes and fortunes were tied to a God whose wrath and punishment were seen as punishment for sin, alienation from God. Things such as illness and bad fortune were directly caused by the sinful nature of the sufferer, their separation from God.
While those who thrived and succeeded in life were the recipients of God’s grace and mercy. Rewarded for good behaviour if you will. We only have to read from the book of Job to realize that sometimes even good people do struggle in life from time to time through no apparent fault of their own.
Today we live in a world that leaves no room for a God who brings healing and wholeness in ways which are unexplainable and mysterious. Miracles are under rated or denied altogether.
We recall this morning the itinerant Jewish rabbi who travelled on foot with this 12 followers, being hounded by those who were desperate, and hungry to meet the man whom they had heard so much about.
They were considered part of the rabble of society. He consorted with outcasts and sinners, those that society shunned, those who the religious officials wrote off as the sinful lost causes of no account.
It seems as though a prophet had come among them, a new Moses if you will who will feed them manna in the wilderness and bring them out bondage under the Romans into the freedom and prosperity they so desperately desire.
This new life they so urgently desired, it was about to be ushered in under the care of this rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth? Yet He wants no part in their adoration.
Instead our compassionate Lord tries to figure out how to feed thousands, with enough food for less than a dozen people. Galilee is an isolated location. It is not well known for its convenience stores or shopping malls. And everyone needs to eat. Our Lord cares enough to see that everyone has enough.
Jesus takes the food, blesses it and distributes it to the crowd, unleashing compassion and generosity amongst his people. Jesus causes everyone’s hunger to disappear with left overs besides. And the people want them for their king.
God had promised them the arrival of a Messiah, who would satisfy the people’s needs for food and justice, even as he inaugurated a new exodus into the freedom of God’s rule. This feeding miracle tips the balance, he must be the One for whom we have been waiting surely.
However Our Lord does not want to be the King of this unruly, chaotic, unjust world of earthly kings. He wants to usher in the coming Kingdom of God, where justice rains down and everyone is able to perceive the presence of God’s unconditional love to all people, where all are fed, all find freedom. It is a peaceable kingdom in which the ruler is God himself.
We all know this talk of kingdoms ended him up on a world of hurt and pain. He would be accused of treason another rabble rouser working to incite the people to rise up against Rome.
His arrest, his trial, and death are part of God’s plan to pass on the ushering of the kingdom into the hands of his followers. Through his resurrection, ascension and the giving of the spirit, the ones who he fed up on the mountain that day now become the ones who are called to bring God’s kingdom into fruition.
There is still plenty more to be done. We all know this to be true. We cannot shrug our shoulders in the face of ongoing human need.
Our ability to usher in the kingdom, like our Lord’s ability in his day was limited by his capacity as a human being. Even he felt the need to get away from the crowd from time to time to pray and meditate for the guidance he needed to do his work.
We feel many times that there is an overwhelming need with minimal resources to cope with all that is required and there is a tendency to give up even before we get started. There aren’t enough people. We don’t have enough money.
We can learn something very important about ourselves when we study this feeding story to it ultimate conclusion
In the hands of our Lord a little becomes a lot. In the hands of the Lord the weak can be made strong. Lives can be changed for the better and in so doing we bring a little of God’s kingdom into the world of earthly kingdoms.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a woman of some wealth and a person of great faith began her work amongst the poorest of the poor with a small band of about 10 other women. In India she chose to care for those on the streets who were considered the most hopeless of causes. Though she started her order in a very modest sort of way, in the end her work mobilized the financial resources of thousands of people and the ranks of her order swelled into the thousands at the time of her death. Her life is an object lesson in the ability of God to multiple exponentially those things which are needed by those who struggle. We as Christians are convicted by the teachings of the loaves and fishes to be content to offer what we can to reach out to those in need, doing what we can and patiently wait for God’s miraculous abundant love to do the rest.
I pray that you can perceive the miracles God has performed in your life- all that he has fed you with, all that he has done for you. It is important to give thanks for all of it and to remember that his kingdom is yet to come. We are his agents in this world here and now ushering in the kingdom. With Mother Teresa as our example, one must work toward bringing the kingdom of God to fruition as was his mission from the very beginning. Amen.