The Feeding of the Gathering
Matthew 14.20 Everyone ate and had enough.
The setting here is a group of people gathered
around and listening to Jesus speak. They were so moved by what he had to
say that no one wanted to leave. They began to get rather hungry and saw
Jesus attempting to feed them all with just a few bits and pieces of food.
Inspired both by his words and by his generosity they put what little
food they had into the bowl as it went past and took out just a little
less than they had put in.
The message is simple. We can waste a lot of time trying to affirm the
extraordinary nature of this miracle story. The real answer is much more
down-to-earth. The miracle was not the production of food out of nothing.
Rather, it was that the crowd was so moved by what they were part of that
they began to exercise a spirit of generosity as well.
Some might say this lessens the miracle. It is equally possible to say
that the miracle is enhanced and that it is a direct challenge that the
everyday activities of our times are miraculous. The things that we share
from within this creation are profound and beautiful.
The introduction to a book of Teilhard de Chardin's meditations was
written by someone who as a child had met Teilhard by chance in New York's
She used to cross Central Park to get to school. She recalled meeting
this strange but wonderful man who would walk and talk with her for a
small part of her journey to school. She remembered being fascinated by
the way they would talk about things and that how, without warning, he
would fall to the floor because he had seen a caterpillar or worm or some
other creature. Then the next few minutes he would share his wonder at
these beautiful and complex pieces of creation. She was moved by his love
of the ordinary and by his passion for creation.
The crowd which gathered to hear Jesus was no doubt likewise so moved
by what they were hearing and seeing that they chose to participate in the
generous act of sharing food. This was, and still is, a miracle.
It is far more powerful to realise that we can change those around us
through our actions or words than by using some mysterious power that is
outside our normal world.
The central message of Jesus says that this world is good, that our
lives and the lives of every bit of creation around us are precious and
wonderful. This is a mammoth difference from the theology that saturates
so much of our biblical literature.
Thank God for the miracle of the human spirit and its ability to change
and to build a better world.
This is the stuff of real miracles.