Luke records how Jesus had been teaching and healing a large crowd of five thousand men. As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here” (Lk 9:12). The disciples appear to show concern for the many gathered. Yet the response of Jesus may reveal otherwise.
When Jesus tells them to, “Give them some food yourselves” (Lk 9:13), the disciples are stymied, for all that they had, five loaves and two fish, would be just enough to feed themselves. The disciples first sought to send the people away, then could see nothing but the limited resources they had, they saw lack.
What follows is the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish such that everyone present had enough to eat. “They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets” (Lk 9:17). This miraculous account is recorded in all four Gospels. Time and again, throughout the Gospel accounts, Jesus is able to provide a way where there appeared to be no way.
How many times have we given up not knowing had we just persevered a bit more we would have accomplished what we sought out to do, how many times have we been overwhelmed before we even began a task so did not even begin, how many times have we not reached out to help because we wondered if we really could make much of a difference any way, and how many times have we seen lack instead of a way?
If you are like me, and can answer in the affirmative to any and all of the above, we are in the same place as the disciples just before Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish and fed the five thousand. We saw lack, where Jesus saw a way. We are finite human beings living in a finite world, yet we are not alone. Jesus, fully human and fully divine, is still with us, present to us, just as he was with his disciples. Apart from him we are limited, we cannot do much if anything alone. Yet, with Jesus all things are possible, he will provide. With Jesus there is a way.