Friday, 27 July 2012

All that I am

GospelJohn 6:1-15 

Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.
  Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.

“Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It was a foolish thing to do; to walk knowingly into the hills without food or water. We should have all known better.

Yet listening to the Rabbi we became entranced - by his vision; by his words; by his promises. This kingdom of his was where we wanted to be; It was a vision that we did not want to walk away from; knowing the life that waited for us back in the cities and towns. Knowing that there - there would be no honour in being meek, sad or downtrodden. We may have trusted him but we had lived in a different world.

So we followed; like some great flock of sheep pushing to stay in sight of their shepherd. And like sheep sitting in the meadow grass of the early spring and suddenly realising that our spirits were full but our bellies were empty. Then wondering if this had all been a trick; a real enchantment; for what were we to do now? Children crying out and if anyone had food they were too scared to take it from their robes under the hungry eyes of their neighbours.

Until the miracle, and that is what it was – there was no sudden sharing from the crowd; a caravan didn’t suddenly appear. The offering of food by the young child was all the Rabbi needed and I watched as his friends carried basket after basket of food to everyone on that hill. There seemed to be no end to it yet it was all I could do not to push forward to make sure I had my share.

As I ate I thought about how easily my life is tossed by circumstance. I am poor; I have nothing; I beg; I blame.  I hear the Word spoken to me; suddenly I believe - but a simple ache in the stomach turns me again to worldly wants; to greed; to resentment. 

I turn to wondering why I am here; what really can these words do for me? I am nothing, I have nothing to give. These Words are maybe meant for another better, holier, more powerful person – I am not even worth the crumbs that lie scattered on the floor.

Then I see him again walking with his friends, bending down here and there, a basket under his arm. And I hear him say ‘ pick up all that is left over’ – then he bends and looks into my eyes as he adds ‘ nothing gets wasted’.

Just as an aside because I have this thing with number patterns - probably only works in English?

two fish and five loaves 

two and five syllables

Re-pent and be-lieve the Good News

It was a calculated risk; Jesus would not solve this hunger by himself. The apostles felt they could do nothing - the 'leaders' would not commit anything they had to the care of the people. How could this need be solved out of their own limited understanding? 

It took a child, an innocent yet generous child to make the difference. Someone who had what they 'had' and wondered if it was enough. In  offering Jesus all that he had,  he offered not 'just enough' but more than enough.

We imagine that we are 'just us' that we don't count for very much in the scheme of things. But we are never 'just us' in God's eyes. We are unique, lovely, precious, extraordinary 'us' and when we give all that back to God, as little as we imagine that is,  we can move mountains - feed thousands. As Jesus says, we will perform greater miracles that he ever did. And we will do it by offering all that we are; all that we possess into God's hands - not for ourselves but for others.

The child is barely mentioned - and not mentioned again -  yet without them how could this miracle have happened? 

Without that child, how would the many be fed with so much left over? 

Without that child, how would this be a witness to the divinity of Jesus; to the generosity of the Father? 

Without that child; 

Without you?

“That's what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” ― Simone de Beauvoir



Lynda said...

I feel as though you have been in my head and my heart and you wrote that beautiful post just for me.

Thank you very much for those powerful words especially, "then he bends and looks into my eyes as he adds ‘ nothing gets wasted’."

Word in the Hand said...

Humbled by your comment - sometimes we do need to be reminded of how much we are loved - just as we are :)) blessings +

claire said...

It is so good that you remind us that 'nothing gets wasted' and that how little we have to bring to Jesus does not matter since he will transform it.

Thank you.