Ninth Sunday after Trinity
Readings: 2 Kings 4. 42-44; Psalm 145. 10-18; Ephesians 3. 14-21; John 6. 1-21 (view all)
It’s everyone’s worst nightmare isn’t it? You throw a dinner party, you lay the food out, and then more and more people arrive and you realise there isn’t enough to go around. Perhaps that’s why, when we entertain, we so often put on so much food that there’s heaps left over.
In both our Old Testament and Gospel Readings, we’re presented with the miraculous stories of a little food stretching much further than it was supposed to, so that, in both cases, there was even some left over.
What can we understand from this about who Jesus is, and the way that God works in our lives today?
In both accounts – with Elisha in our OT reading and Jesus in the gospel, we encounter the same practical disbelief from those around them. Elisha’s servant, looking at the pitiful barley loaves and grain stalks in the sack, exclaims: ‘How can I set this before a hundred people?’ And in our gospel reading, Andrew’s reaction is similar: ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’
Often as people of faith, we can find ourselves in the same position when we look at what we have to offer God and others. We say to ourselves, ‘I don’t have enough’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ to make a difference.
But both the servant and the disciples are shocked to find that the food not only stretches across all those gathered, but with plenty more left over to gather up at the end.
Both accounts paint for us a picture of the abundance of God’s Kingdom, and the role of the prophet to reveal God and his Kingdom to us, his people. As today’s Psalm tells us,
The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord and you give them their food in due season. You open wide your hand and fill all things living with plenty.
This is the God who, in Jesus, takes our own ordinary offering, and has the ability to transform it into something extraordinary. Who takes a small boy’s packed lunch and transforms it into a banquet for the five thousand. He is no more and no less than the one who commands the whole of creation. The one able to walk on water, and to calm the storm.
And that same Jesus comes to us today, inviting us to offer what we are able — our time, our energy, our gifts and talents, our money — no matter how small or insignificant it might seem to us, to be transformed for the good of his kingdom.
This is the same God of whom Paul writes passionately to the Ephesians:
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations.
I wonder, this morning: Will we choose, no matter the situation in which we find ourselves, to trust in God’s incredible love and purposes for us? Will we offer what little we have in faith that God can and will transform our small offering for the good of his kingdom?
How can we, as God’s Church in this community, offer ourselves in faith that God will use us to grow his kingdom amongst our friends and neighbours?
In his Corpus Christi Sermon a couple of years ago, Pope Francis said this about the feeding of the five thousand:
‘Clearly this miracle was not intended merely to satisfy hunger for a day, but rather it signals what Christ wants to accomplish for the salvation of all mankind, giving his own flesh and blood. And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all.‘
Our incredible God longs to draw us into the abundant, eternal life he has prepared for each one of us. As we celebrate this Eucharist, may we offer what we have, in order that he might transform and multiply it for the good of his Kingdom.
who sent your Holy Spirit
to be the life and light of your Church:
open our hearts to the riches of your grace,
that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit
in love and joy and peace;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.