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 because they 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 narration, Jesus is provides a way where there appeared to be no way. His supernatural grace builds on nature.
We see this most wonderfully in the transfiguration of the simple gifts of bread and wine which represent our gift and offering. When we bring the little we have, Jesus divinizes our gifts and makes them holy. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the appearance of bread and wine remain, but the substance, the very core and reality, has been transformed into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.
How many times have we given up not knowing that 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? How many times have we believed there was no way forward instead of trusting that there is a way?
If you are like me, and can answer in the affirmative to any and/or 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. Jesus also, through the hands of the priest offers us bread from heaven.
Too often, we see lack, where Jesus sees a way. We are finite human beings living in a finite world, yet there is more than the natural, more than what the senses can detect, there is the supernatural. The Eucharist is not just a symbol but the true presence of Jesus, fully human and fully divine. When we eat his body and drink his blood we experience a deep and intimate connection with Jesus. He dwells ever deeper within us so as to transform us into the fullness of who we have been created to be.
With Jesus all things are possible. He will not only provide or guide but empower each and everyone of us by giving the gift of himself. With Jesus there is always a way, because he is the way, the truth, and the life.
Photo: Eucharistic procession at St. Helen’s in Vero Beach, FL, Saturday morning.