‘Love is like five loaves and two fish: it’s never enough until it is shared.’
‘When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.’
(Dom Helder Camara; Brazilian Archbishop)
Jesus said, ‘You give them something to eat.’ (Matthew 14. 16.)
Today we come to one of the stories that many of us will remember from Sunday School, the story of Jesus taking five small loaves of bread, and two fish, and with them somehow feeding a crowd of 5000 men plus women and children.
Now there are lots and lots of things we could say about this story, and we have only a short time, but I want to invite you to consider an approach to bible reading that many people find very helpful: and this is to imagine you are one of the people in this story, and then to think and feel your way into the story through that person.
And if we read this story today, we can see that it has meaning and challenge for us, here in this nation of ours:
First, it says to us: Don’t send them away. Don’t just pretend that it’s not our concern when people are hungry, distressed, homeless or helpless. Not everyone is hungry for food, but many are. And many others are hungry for someone to listen, someone to take them seriously, someone to have compassion.
Then we note that Jesus’ compassion calls forth a response from us. He says: ‘You give them something to eat.’
But that brings us to say that we, honestly, can’t manage. We can’t, and we shouldn’t pretend. For too long, the church has pretended that it had the resources, or the answers, for the world’s needs. Some big churches may continue this way, but we cannot. And we should not.
Honestly, Jesus, what have we got to offer? Well, the answer is: Not nothing. We do have something to offer.
We can pick up a few loaves and start handing them around. It means taking a risk: the risk of looking stupid, mostly in our own eyes.
What we have to offer is making ourselves available to whatever Jesus is going to do—and that we don’t entirely know or understand. So we have a choice, to stand back and do nothing, or get involved with however it is that Jesus is working, in our streets, in our city, in our community.
God wills that the hungry are fed.
God wills that those who are lost should be accompanied into friendship.
God wills that those hungry for dignity and someone to care are taken seriously.
God wills that the fruits of the earth, a piece of bread and small amount of wine should be offered to each and every member of the human family—the gift of fellowship and life together.
Okay, we can’t do it: not on our own. All we can do is reach out and offer it to someone. Someone, just someone, and after that it’s up to God …