What Do You Have?
Usually, we think about the feeding of the 5,000 as one of Jesus’ greatest miracles. How could Jesus take just two fish and five loaves and stretch them to feed that many people? But the disciples were there too. And while it’s easy to wonder about the size of the crowds and the lack of food and the miracle of it all, I found myself thinking more about the disciples.
It had been a long day and they were probably tired. I can hear the disciples now. “Come on Jesus. It’s time to go. Let’s lose this crowd and get something to eat. These people are probably hungry and ready to get some food for themselves anyway. So, let’s get them out of here so we can do the same.”
Right there, in the face of the disciples’ questions, their doubts, and in spite of their laziness or whatever was going on with them, Jesus says, “YOU give them something to eat. YOU feed them.”
“What do you mean, ‘YOU feed them’?” they reply. “Maybe you haven’t noticed, Jesus, but there’s like 5,000 of them on this hill and all we brought with us is a couple of stinky fish and a few loaves of bread.”
“YOU give them something to eat,” Jesus says. And they did.
It’s an incredible miracle, but if we just focus on trying to figure out how Jesus made it happen, or on the crowds or the fish or the bread, then we’re missing a big point of the story. For me, the gospel, the Good News in the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand is found in Jesus’ short and simple response to the disciples: “YOU give them something to eat.”
What I hear Jesus saying is, “Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Don’t pretend you don’t have the time or the skills or the resources to do God’s bidding in the world. Don’t pretend you’re not qualified or capable. Don’t put it off for another day or time or moment when it might be more convenient for you. Don’t even wait for me to do it in your place. YOU give them something to eat.”
Jesus didn’t ask the disciples to collect enough money and buy enough food to feed all the people that were gathered. Instead, he asked, “What do you have? What can you do? If you have no fish and bread, can you offer the people a warm welcome and a place to sit? Or do you choose to be overwhelmed and sit back and say, ‘I have nothing to give.’”
So, I ask you, what are we being called to do? What loaves and fishes are we being asked to contribute? When we respond with “I can do something,” miracles happen and people are fed, literally and spiritually. The question is, what will you say when Jesus tells you to feed them and asks: “What do you have?”
What Do You Have?