What strikes us in the Gospel is the initial response of the disciples to the plight of the hungry crowd. They seem to be saying that they have no responsibility in responding to their hunger. They are so conscious of the little they have in the face of the enormity of the need before them. The response of Jesus is one of compassion for the people but the disciples are more concerned about their fears and inadequacies. Jesus challenges them and guides them to open their hearts and to recognise that with the little they do have, and in the midst of their fears, their generosity of heart can make an enormous difference for those who are in need.
Jesus takes the five loaves and two fish and blesses and breaks them. Then we observe that Jesus doesn’t distribute the bread himself but calls on the disciples to distribute the bread to the hungry crowd. Divine generosity is being revealed through the human co-operation of the disciples. How wonderful to see that in the midst of a small amount of food, God’s generous love can transform the littleness we feel to become a source of abundance for all.
In this time of pandemic, we too can sense our own inadequacies and fears in the face of increasing numbers of infections. We are all suffering as part of the one human family. In the face of the enormity of the situation, we are all suffering as part of the one human family. At the same time, we all hunger to be safe, to be protected, to be cared for, we hunger for a healing pathway to be found through this pandemic. We are invited to be open to what is happening to our brothers and sisters around us. In the midst of the little we might feel we have, Jesus is inviting us to recognise our unique worth and giftedness. He desires that his Spirit of generosity be active in us, in responding to the hunger of those who are isolated, of those who need encouragement, of those who are struggling for meaning and hope. Each of us as disciples of Jesus, share in the responsibility to satisfy the particular hungers that touch our human lives at this time.
Fr Martin Ashe