We celebrate in the Eucharist, God’s desire to give us Life through the death of Jesus. Through the Resurrection He lives and walks our walk to and from that same daily or weekly celebration. We pray to receive and live more faithfully and generously that very Life.
We pray with the little we have and celebrate what God does with it. We pray to resist the temptation to diminish our gift, (little though they might be in our eyes) and offer them to be transformed into ways of God’s being present. We pray to resist the worldly spirit of envy by which we fall to grumbling that we are not enough, have not enough, and will wait until we have more.
In the Book of Genesis we hear the desire of God for human beings to increase and multiply. In our First Reading and Gospel today we have the reverse. There is multiplication of bread in both and an increase in faith for the journey. Elisa is the “man of God” and in the previous story he preserved his fellow prophets from death. There was a famine and so one day they made a soup of herbs gathered from the fields. After it had been cooked, one person sipped some and said that there was “death” in that pot.
Elisa gathered some other grains, threw it in the pot and no harm came to any of the other sippers. Immediately after that Elisa’s servant brought him twenty barley loaves. Elisa told the servant to give them to the crowd of one hundred. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisa told the observant servant. He knew it would not be enough, but it was, and more than enough. The Man of God multiplied and increased the display of God’s abundant goodness.
The Gospel is a wonderful display as well of God’s being more than enough. As is John’s pattern, there is a tension, an apparent impossibility. There is a large crowd following Jesus, it is late in the day, there is little to eat. What shall we do? A lad is in the crowd with something, but obviously not enough.
Jesus takes the bread and fish, gives thanks and gives the food to the multitude who experience satisfaction, after the multiplication. What increases is the awareness that Jesus, because of these “signs” is the “one who is to come.” Jesus, knowing that they desire a king who can do such wonders for them, withdraws from their greed to possess.
These verses form the framework for the rest of this chapter’s major tensions. We will be hearing in the weeks to come, the discussions Jesus has with his fellow Jews who find his sayings difficult about his invitations to eat his flesh and drink his blood. These are indeed hard sayings and in four weeks, we will hear Jesus ask His disciples why they have not left him, because of these same teachings. For now though, Jesus resolves the hunger-tensions of the crowd, and the apparent insufficiency of the apostles. These close followers of Jesus will often be faced with this very same tension about their being so little in the face of such demands to increase the presence of Jesus and multiply His works.
“I cannot give what I do not have,” is a famous saying. We have humbling experiences of not having and yet wanting to give more, are more for family and friends and this world. Few of us, if any, feel sufficient for the relationships and tasks of love to which we are invited in our lives. This very sense leads us down two parallel paths. We walk the walk of envy and comparing. We walk the slippery-slope of self-diminishment and negativity. “Satis” is the Latin word for “enough” in English. “Facio” is the Latin word for “do” in English. Satisfaction means we have enough to do enough. Here is the tension then, do we have enough to do the deeds of our true hearts and soul? Those things which we really desire doing, which are the deepest expressions of who we are and our relationships with those we love are never “enough”.
During the Presentation of Gifts in the Eucharistic Liturgy, we are the young person from the Gospel story who has the “five loaves and two fish”. He takes them and gives “thanks” and then gives them back to us in the expression of His abundant love saying, “You are My Body and you are enough.” Perhaps the most difficult thing to believe about this exchange is not that the bread and wine we offer is changed into His Body and Blood, but that I am and we are changed into His Body and do His works, even though we judge ourselves not “satis-facio”.
Jesus fed so many with so little and He continues to do this through us, with us, and in us in the unity of the Holy Spirit and all glory and honor is Yours, Almighty Father, for ever, or for at least as long as I and we continue to receive Your abundant sufficiency. In the words of Simon Peter, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
The poet, F. M. Hopkins pictures Jesus, now in heaven, as looking down and seeing a person living the Eucharist, doing some act of love. The poet sees Jesus then, reaching down, hugging, kissing that person and telling that person:
“O Christ-done deed! So god-made flesh
The Soldier 1885
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