The feeding of 4,000 with just a little bread and a few fish
The story of bread and fish, which appears only in Mark and Matthew, is also known as the miracle of the seven loaves and fishes, as the Gospel of Matthew refers to seven loaves and a few small fish used by Jesus to feed a multitude.
According to the Gospels, a large crowd had gathered and was following Jesus. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”
“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”
Jesus told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.
We have all heard this remarkable story of simple bread and fish. It seems to be a story that describes supernatural powers that Jesus had to out rank the natural order of things. Jesus seems to be like Super Man who could leap tall buildings in a single bound. He seems not to be confined to the limitations that you and I face every day. Here is a child, a little boy, who may have packed a lunch for himself and possibly a friend. His lunch of bread and fish was clearly “not enough” to feed the crowd gathered to hear Jesus.
Can you and I bring to mind the many times in our lives when we clearly have not “had enough”. It seems to me that the miracle of the story is that somehow the little boy showed up with what he had. Fear, defensiveness, shame and doubt can so easily block us from “showing up”. We are often convinced that what we have to bring to the party is not enough. We may suffer from low self esteem. We may hear voices from the past that accuse and judge us. These voices can direct our paths and determine our behavior in situation after situation.
This magnificent story invites us to bring what we have. Bring our bits of bread and fish. Even if the bread that we carry is stale and dry, we are challenged to bring it. Bring ourselves, open our hearts and our lives to “love God, neighbor and self”. This is what transformation and New Life are all about. If we think we are not enough and can make no difference in situations that we face in life that thought becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. In life, love is the answer to every challenge. I believe that we are invited to deal with ourselves and each other with care and compassion.