Maybe the event told in today’s gospel was meant to be a reminder to the people present of how God fed the Israelites with manna from heaven and water from a rock while they struggled their way to their land of promise. Jesus’ wonderful act of care and kindness for the wellbeing of this great crowd can be a reminder to all of us that we are constantly in the mind of God even though we are often unmindful of God. Jesus tells us that we are of greater value than the lilies of the field in all their beauty and we are of greater value than the birds of the air for whom he provides so generously. In a wondrous way Jesus fed this great crowd with five loaves of bread and two fish with plenty of food left over to teach us of the Father’s constant care and concern for each of us. He told us that the very hairs of our head are numbered.
There can be another way of looking at this gospel. This feeding of the multitude can prefigure Jesus feeding us, as he does at this Mass, with his own body and blood strengthening us as we make our own way through life.
But here’s something else we might find in today’s gospel. Everything Jesus said or did was meant to invite people to grow, to move just one step, even a baby step beyond where they are into a deeper relationship with God.
The people who followed Jesus that day were not dumb. They probably all brought something with them to eat. In taking his five loaves and two fish and offering it to those around him Jesus challenged them all to do the same. In following his example of generosity, his willingness to share the little he had with others, the people were willing to share and mix with those around them and their lives were better for it. He invited them in to imitate the generosity of God.
The news reports we see every day make us wonder what is happening to human kind. The hatred and brutality of people toward those different than themselves is beyond belief. It is the little people, the women and children caught in the middle of power struggles who suffer the most. We look; we wonder and maybe even despair. What can we do? Realistically we can’t do anything to change things in Gaza or Israel or the Ukraine, or in the conflicts going on in Africa.
What can we do? How can we make the world a better place? We can start with the person or persons who are in our face. Our husband, wife, son, daughter, grandchildren, our lonely shut in neighbour, people with whom you work, people you meet in an elevator or in the supermarket, people at the checkout counter, people on the street.
What can we do? Be kind, be respectful, be aware, and be concerned. The person in your face is a child of God, as you are. The person in your face is you brother or sister in Christ. The person in your face is a person for whom Christ died on the cross. How we treat them, speak to them, help them in anyway can make a difference in their lives and in ours.
There was a movie out a few years ago titled ‘The Ark’. The ark meant an act of random kindness. It could be as simple as holding a door open for someone or letting someone through in traffic or complimenting someone on how good they look – it could be so many other little gestures of kindness or recognition – but they do make a difference, they do make the world a little more human.
The life of Jesus was filled with acts of random kindness as in today’s gospel he takes the little he has and shares it with others and that act sent ripples through the crowd and people became concerned with those around them.
Jesus shares his life with us today as he invites – take and eat, take and drink – an act of random kindness. May his generosity to us inspire and motivate us to bring light and love and healing into the lives of those who are in our face by our own acts of random kindness.