2 Kings 4:42-44
The story of Jesus feeding a crowd of five thousand with a few loaves and fishes and its precursor in the story of Elisha from the Book of Kings are reassuring reminders of how much God loves us. Two questions come up in both of these narratives. The first question is one which comes up every time we prepare a meal for others.
Will there be enough for everybody?
In both readings there is a concern raised over whether a little bit of food will be enough for the crowds. Andrew asks Jesus, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" The answer is revealed as everyone in the crowd is fed until they are satisfied. The simple truth in the story is that God’s love is more than enough for us all. Even when we are suffering we can be assured of the abundance of God’s love for us. The second question comes up after we prepare a meal and it’s time to do the dishes.
What should we do with the leftovers?
Jesus tells the disciples to gather up any leftovers. "Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted." This is much more than a Tupperware opportunity. Not only are we to partake fully in consuming God’s abundant love; we also must give this life giving love away to others. We must give from our abundance. Our baptism in God’s loving grace fills our souls. We in turn must give this grace to others in every human interaction. This can be as simple as a loving smile, a helpful hand or a compassionate act.
I love this story. It clearly reminds me of how hungry I am for God’s love in my life. It also reminds me of how much I need to share this experience of grace with others. My prayerful reflection can be summed up in an old spiritual.
"Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this thirsting of my soul. Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more. Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole."
Terry McDevitt, Ph.D. is a member of our Passionist Family who volunteers at the Passionist Assisted Living Community in Louisville, Kentucky.