Luke 9:11-17 Corpus Christi
Bread and Fish for Five Thousand
The apostles returned and reported on what they had done. Jesus took them away, off by themselves, near the town called Bethsaida. But the crowds got wind of it and followed. Jesus graciously welcomed them and talked to them about the kingdom of God. Those who needed healing, he healed.
As the day declined, the Twelve said, "Dismiss the crowd so they can go to the farms or villages around here and get a room for the night and a bite to eat. We're out in the middle of nowhere."
You feed them," Jesus said.
They said, "We couldn't scrape up more than five loaves of bread and a couple of fish—unless, of course, you want us to go to town ourselves and buy food for everybody." (There were more than five thousand people in the crowd.)
But he went ahead and directed his disciples, "Sit them down in groups of about fifty." They did what he said, and soon had everyone seated. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread and fish to the disciples to hand out to the crowd. After the people had all eaten their fill, twelve baskets of leftovers were gathered up.
As we celebrate Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord, we hear Luke's version of the feeding of the five thousand.
At the end of a long day, faced with a mass of hungry people, and a tiny amount of food that they'd probably been saving for their own supper, the disciples could only see one solution: we can't possibly feed them; tell them all to go away and find food for themselves.
Jesus saw it differently. He told the disciples to take some responsibility and feed the crowd themselves. You can imagine how that made them feel: it's impossible; it's too big a problem; we just don't have what we need to make any difference. So how did Jesus handle it? First, he made the problem seem less enormous, by getting the disciples to organise the people into smaller groups. Sometimes seeing the bigger picture just makes it overwhelming! Then he prayed, blessed the little food they had, and broke it to share out, just as he would later at the last supper. Miraculously, there was not only enough to feed everyone, but there were left-overs too.
Jesus shows us that problems that seem too big for us can be solved if we have faith and rely on God to bring his power to the small things we are able to do.
In the Eucharist, we all share in the body and blood of Jesus. Just as the huge crowd was able to share in the material food they needed, multitudes of us share in the spiritual nourishment of Holy Communion.
When we look at the problems facing our world today, even though we know we are called to help, we often feel as overwhelmed as the disciples did. It's too big for me to make a difference. I don't have enough to give. But if we have faith, we can ask for God's help in making our small actions really count.
As Don Bosco said, 'Do what you can. God will do what you can't do yourself.'
Salesian Communication Worker
God our Father
Never let us forget how much we can do for each other, out of love of you, when we call on your help, nourished by the body and blood of Jesus Christ your son