A feast out of scraps

The reading is from the gospel according to St. Matthew 14:14-22Image

We are witnesses here to a wonderful gospel message about the power of God not only to transform the imperfect into something perfect, but also to create a harvest out of a few scraps.

We know that anytime the Lord Jesus traveled during his earthly ministry he was followed by flocks of people. We see the picture of a man who is truly the shepherd who lead his sheep all over Judea. As Our Lord traveled there was always something of a circus around him. All those people, all their children, all the sick ones moaning and wailing and pleading for help. There were times when Jesus had to leave the people and rest alone. He needed time to collect himself and time to be with his heavenly Father in prayer. Without this time, there would be no ministry.

On this occasion however the multitudes get word of Jesus whereabouts and they follow him on foot. When the Lord realizes that they have followed him such a long distance on foot he has compassion on them. He could’ve been angry, after all he needed the rest. But he was moved with compassion. Just as the sheep knew their shepherd, likewise the shepherd knew his sheep. He heard their voices and he could not leave them to wander astray. After many hours he had healed all of their sick and it was now very late. The disciples came to Jesus and asked him to send the people away since they were hungry and needed to go buy food. They were thoughtful, they did not want anyone to suffer from hunger. But they lacked something in their approach.

The Lord replied to the disciples “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” They looked at him as if he was crazy “we have only five loaves and two fish.” As I said, they were thoughtful but they lacked one thing, a bit of faith. At times I’ve made the statement that our math is not God’s math. Our math is not God’s math. This is the lesson here for the disciples. They had insisted saying “we only have 5 loaves and two fish”, and they were right!!! They only had 5 loaves and 2 fish. But they had made one costly mistake. The Lord replied with the answer. It was not just the answer to this problem, but the answer to every problem even the seemingly impossible. “Bring them here to me”, that was the answer.

“Bring them here to me.” It is as if Our Lord was saying “In your hands they are only five loaves and two fish, but in my hands they are a feast!” The fact of the matter is that if we believe we are limited in everything we do, we’re right! This is called self defeating prophecy and it is a sin in God’s eyes. We limit ourselves because we don’t believe that God is God. Because we don’t actually think that He is watching over us, that He loves us and wants the best for us. Is it because we are afraid to give him control of our lives?

Let’s not be faithless, but instead be people of faith. The loaves and the fish, which in the disciples hands could not feed a small family became in the hands of the Master, the feast that fed upwards of 15,000 and provided 12 baskets of leftovers. No doubt even the number 12 here is no coincidence, but a sign to the disciples who were twelve in number and had worried about how to feed the masses and now each one of these had a full basket of his own. The Christian faith is not seeing is believing. Our faith is believing is seeing. Tasting the gifts of God and choosing to follow Him and seeing the results.

Each one of us have things that we would like to do and to accomplish and we are each very limited in our talents and in our abilities. But Jesus Christ gives us a way to multiply what is good in each of us, bring those gifts, those talents and even those weaknesses to Him. Even the best of our attributes are scraps in our hands.  They are made wonderful in His hands.

Start in prayer and say “Lord I am a simple person who has very little to offer to anyone else, I can barely take care of myself but I offer my life to you and I ask you to bless this simple offering for the glory of your holy name.” God can’t ignore this prayer if it is said with your whole heart because God loves humble prayers. We see an example of this with Moses who stuttered and yet was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Once his life was offered up to God, there wasn’t much that Moses couldn’t do. He became a blessing to his family and to all the people of Israel.

We are given a choice everyday. We can choose to let faith or lack of faith dictate our lives. We can choose to be known by our strengths and weaknesses or we can choose to be known by the One whom we serve. Our Lord Jesus Christ has done and will continue to do miracles in our Church and in our lives, and He does this when we must first put everything in it’s rightful place, that is……..into his loving hands.

(originally preached August 10, 2008)

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