twenty barley loaves “give it to the people to eat” said Elisha the man of God.. & Elisha’s credentials & God’s divine intervention were put to the test.. “how can I serve this to a hundred men?” said servant ..he answers his own question “how can I serve this?” ..on his own, on our own, it is mission impossible with the help of God, you can feed the multitude in your families & friends who look up to you to feed them..in their hunger for real food & real answers, not in their stomachs but in their hearts..
“..how can I serve this to a hundred men?” ; Lord have mercy “..give it to the people to eat..” ; Christ have mercy “..they ate & had some over..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..prayer & work..work & prayer.. “impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick” & Jesus withdrew, climbed hill & sat down to pray with his disciples..time out with his favourites & his Father..those hungry for more cures sought him out; every time we gather here for Mass he’ll be here with us, we his disciples, be sure, & Jesus challenges Philip “where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?”..a great sense of co-responsibility “we” teamwork..”we” will feed them together..& then for me, an awkward distraction St John brings into his gospel & moment “he only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly [exactly] what he was going to do”..if God is love, love gives, allows, enables, empowers, trusts..love mops up mistake & disgrace, & forgives 70x7 times; love never tests, it can only trust & then, when that trust is betrayed, it forgives; I don’t think even God knows “exactly” what is to happen, as he risks in love leaving us in control..to use wisely greatest gift he gives us after the gift of life, the gift of free-will, to choose wisely or otherwise in reacting to the floods in Europe, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the migrant camps in Calais, & in pandemic & in vaccine charity..whilst media concentrate on covid, the skeletons in our collective cupboard of neglect & shame are left to fester..no Commons Committees to call politicians to account, nor indeed synods in our Church to call our leaders, as well as our parish priest, to be accountable & transparent..it isn’t a test to identify failure, it is an opportunity to learn from our mistakes & address the physical emotional relational & spiritual malnutrition..“two hundred denarii [ £200bn ] would only buy enough to give a small piece each” & now with 0.2% cut from UK overseas aid budget it will be an even smaller piece each..& Andrew the fisherman, well used to sniffing out shoal of fish whilst others come back to harbour with long faces & empty nets, notices “there is a small boy here with 5 barley loaves & 2 fish” & Jesus, in face of his tired exhausted thin faithed disciples takes over, no doubt disappointed that yet again his closest most able followers leave it yet again to him to organise a miracle, when he wants/needs them to use their own divine talents & giftedness & get cracking..get feeding..he “took blessed broke & gave” four key moments at our weekly feeding at Mass..”takes” us as we are especially our mistakes blemishes & disgraces..he came not to congratulate perfection but to redeem failure..he “blesses” us as we are, reimpregnates us with grace love & understanding..he “breaks” us, breaks open our heart, a heart of self-reliance & self-assessment, & we “give” share..take part of someone else’s divinity as they take part of ours..& sharing a meal, the bread of life the meal of a lifetime here & now..where all we have to do is believe, to have faith that Jesus can & will do it for us, as we do it for him “do this in memory of me” co-responsibility..Pope Francis said “if there is the will, what we have never ends”..what I have come to realise, seemingly only these last few days, after breaking open this gospel for many years, is that the miracle happened as they were sharing with the crowd what little they had..God didn’t multiply it all up-front, he kept it from running out; such a faith moment, to keep giving what little we have, & realise it will always always be enough..with evidence of it for the prescriptionists among us, in 12 hampers left over; a meeting of minds hearts & real presence..& for people the penny, the denarii, dropped “this really is the prophet who is to come into the world” almost as if they have, so far, been testing him, holding back full assent & an open heart..”just in case” someone we know very well.. an extraordinary link for us here & now, very first weekend we emerge from lockdown is to realise John’s gospel is framed on signs..& last sign before this feeding? Wedding feast at Cana..”there is no wine” & the miracle happened as what looked like water was poured into glass of each guest, notice a guest list strictly numbered rather like our track & trace lists here at this wedding feast for last 17 months, & now, from today a gradual easing, encouraging the anxious timid & undernourished to quietly slowly return to a meal for all-comers, as we gently encourage those many who have gone hungry in all its disguises through lockdown to come home & to share in this meal of a lifetime for a lifetime..”do this in memory of me” little did they know what was to happen to him.. it will only be in the process of addressing the problems as opportunites, of world hunger, of migrancy, of the reformation of our parish, that solutions will be found..we need to begin to share out the little we have..freshly baked bread with a smell & a taste to die for, & as it says on a carrier back from Thomas the Baker “food2go” not given but shared.. [17th SunYrB Jn 6;1-15]