Start your meeting with the Sign of the Cross and prayer
Then someone read: Jn 6:5-13
Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?"… One of his disciples, … said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what is that among so many people?" Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." … so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost." So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.
A Little is a lot in God's Hands November 2018
Chris Skinner SM
A little is a lot in God's hands.
The Gospel story taken from Jn. 6:1-15 set out on the shores of Lake Galilee about the little boy and his offering of five barley loaves and two fish, is very familiar to us. As Jesus is confronted by a large hungry crowd, a challenge is presented: where will 'we' get enough food for them all? The disciples were not exaggerating: they knew their limitations - 'how are we going to feed them?' It's all so overwhelming. Andrew's response is, 'Well, what is this, (referring to the few loaves and fish,) among so many?' The task is in the 'too hard' basket – so to speak. What happens inside you when you feel overwhelmed? What motivates you to keep going and at least do something?
Jesus sees the same hungers the disciples see but he knows what he is going to do.
Jesus' compassion made him sensitive toward the hungers in people he encountered: He fed those hungry for the truth with his teaching; his compassion fed the sorrowing; his mercy fed the marginalised; his caring fed the sick, the dying and the lonely. His love fed the hunger of every person yearning to be accepted and loved, to belong, to be forgiven and redeemed. Jesus' feeding of the crowds stands out and challenges us as disciples. And Jesus fully expected his disciples to continue his work. We must, like the disciples, learn the value of small people and small things. In giving away the small gifts from the small people, Jesus reveals God's generosity. There was enough. Indeed, there was plenty, and leftovers besides.
A comical wisdom statement from the Dalai Lama may be helpful to you. 'If you think that a little doesn't make a difference, then try sleeping with a mosquito.'
When I was in Ranong in Thailand some years ago visiting our Marist Mission there, I went into the simple, flimsy dwelling of a migrant family. They had nothing in the material sense. There was a whole lot of newspapers on the walls and cracks in the floorboards through which I could see the ocean below. I was humbled by their welcome and hugely grateful, because it was so hot, when they offered me a glass of cool cordial – you can imagine what that was like. It was a humble expression of love and hospitality. They shared with me from the little they had. One act of kindness inspires another. Don't you find that yourself? I know we shouldn't respond just because people help us, but it does inspire those actions, to do what others have done for us. I suppose it's the golden rule isn't it? Treat others as you would like yourself to be treated. So I am reminded of the little boy's action. 'Look, this is all I have – these few loaves and fish. Take it and use it. And what a gift it turned out to be!
God wants to feed our hungers. Our world hungers for peace, security, community, meaning and wholeness. Can we make a difference? Can we touch peoples' hearts, minds and wills? Can we believe that we have the power - a few loaves and fishes – to make a difference? Withholding our gifts or thinking that we can't do anything, or that missing the smallest efforts of others might just mean we miss seeing a miracle.
Christ appeals to our hearts and our humanity to do what we can. To share the resources, we have. We may not think we have a lot to offer but he works through each one of us and takes the little we have and transforms it. I am reminded of the good sorts we see sometimes on TV, one in particular I remember – a woman, who saw the need for children without food, during lunchtime in school. She started off small and gathered others around her - and there was a real willingness to do something in the first place, and it gets expanded and grows, and then more and more children are being fed.
In our Marist context, it is interesting when we think of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, she never appears to the rich and powerful but always to the humble and insignificant in the world, St Bernadette of Lourdes, The Fatima Children, St Juan Diego and the story of Guadalupe. From simple beginnings these places have become important places of pilgrimage where millions of people gather in search of healing, peace and renewed faith for themselves and others. Mary, herself, is the humble handmaid who had a deep sense of how blessed she was when she said, 'He looks on His servant in her lowliness'. Mary's generous response and cooperation with God, her simple 'Be it done to me according to your Word,' issued in the dawn of a new creation. That new creation, the kingdom of her Son, continues to unfold and to be lived and breathed in the hearts of millions of believers throughout the world, including your little group of Marist Laity listening to this presentation.
A little is a lot in God's hands.
Simply use the questions below as starters to guide your sharing.
1. What stands out for you from the Scripture or Reflection?
2. What happens inside you when you feel overwhelmed?
3. What motivates you to keep going and at least do something?
4. Have you experienced a situation where a little became a lot in God's hands? Share that experience or share a situation that feels overwhelming.
5. What connections can you see between this and your Marist spirituality?
Concluding Prayer Time:
For your own intentions and the needs of others.
We fly to your protection Oh Holy Mother of God,
Despise not our prayers
in our necessities
but deliver us from all danger
Oh glorious and blessed Virgin.