Fourth Sunday in Lent

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Galatians 4: 21-31 John 6 1-14

This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world

The miracle of the multiplication is another lesson in faith. It teaches that we should not be anxious about what to eat or about anything in this temporal existence. The God that we are serving does not make vain or empty promise. He always proves what he says. In Matthew 6: 25Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear (Matthew 6: 25). Our God supplies to our needs. When he says don’t worry about food, he already made provision for us. When he says don’t worry about your sickness, he already made provision for your healing. Any problems you may be facing, know that he already has an answer. Here in our Gospel, Jesus demonstrates that he is a man of his word. He means what he says. He proves what he preaches. Let us remind ourselves the context of the miracle in today’s gospel.

God works in contrast

The story speaks to us about immensity and poverty. The immensity refers to the number of people to feed. “Lifting up his eyes, he saw the crowd”. This is big! This is huge! Contrasted with that immensity is the poverty of resources available: only five barley loaves and two fish. Here lies the contrast. Sometimes we find ourselves in the same situation, facing the same contrast; contrast between the responsibilities and the strengths to carry them on; contrast between the demands and offers; contrast between obligations and the resources available in our hands; contrast between the obstacles and our inability to face them. Know that the children of Israel faced the same situation when they arrived at the Red Sea. They found themselves between the immensity of the sea and their inability to cross it knowing the army of Pharaoh was pursuing them. We live every day in contrasting situations. But why did the story of our gospel take place in such sharp contrast?

We must understand that miracles take place in situation of scarcity not plenty. Where there is plenty, we don’t need miracle. Where there is plenty, we don’t have to struggle for anything. In the book of Deuteronomy, God told his people this: “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7 Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites…See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession…” (Deuteronomy 1: 6-7, 8). This is another way of telling them “you have enjoyed enough the abundance of my presence. Get on the road. Go through the heat of the day, the rain, the cold weather and you will see the land where you will live in prosperity forever”. Miracle occurs each time that we empty ourselves for the spirit of God to work in us. That’s the meaning of being poor in spirit. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5: 3).

Jesus met the crowd in the very point of their need. They had almost nothing. Only five loaves, which were barley loaves, the cheapest kind of bread. Barley was considered animal food. Only the poor would eat barley loaves, those who have no resources. Jesus, knowing that poverty can break people’s spirit, took the initiative and fought against it.

God always supplies

I strongly believe that God multiplies the little that we have whenever we offer it. Jesus receives whatever we bring, he then says the blessing and we are increased. We should never say what the disciples said: “But what we have is not enough. What is so little among so many? We don’t have enough”. When we come to Jesus with our offerings he multiplies them and enables us to reach out the homeless, the hungry, those who don’t have anyone to rely on.  This is true concerning our individual needs, the needs of our families, the needs of our church.

We remember the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. The woman noticed that “her jar or meal never emptied and her jug of oil never failed until the day the Lord sent rain on the earth” (1Kings 17:14). The rains brought over the land the drought and the famine. However, the widow had to share her last portion of flour and oil to make a cake of bread for Elijah first, and then God provided for her and her son. They lived in abundance all the days of their lives.

By feeding the crowd with five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus transformed the crowd into a community, a community united in their need for one another, in the bread they share, in the love of Christ who has brought them together. Each time we come to the Holy Communion, Christ empowers each one of us to perform our own miracles of creating community when we include outsiders, when we welcome the rejected and forgotten to our tables, when we give of what little we have, joyfully and gratefully, for the sake of others, when we welcome one another as we would welcome Jesus.

As we move toward Easter, may God open up the eyes of our heart to see the miracle that he performs every day in our individual and collective lives. And may this Holy Communion nourish our body and soul and prepare each and every one of us for the Eternal banquet. Amen!