Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
In the Gospel reading for today, we heard about a great and startling miracle –our Lord took the insufficient resources of five loaves and two fishes and fed the multitudes with them… Indeed, all ate and were filled and there were twelve baskets left over! This is an astonishing miracle of overcoming the natural laws of things, but there is also much more to this Gospel account that speaks to us about our worldly or spiritual outlook and the necessity to turn to God for all things. There is a great and fundamental spiritual truth being demonstrated here that shows us how Christ can transform our weakness into strength, if we’ll only turn to Him.
As the evening approached, the disciples looked out upon the multitudes and become concerned and upset about the logistics of caring for and feeding so many. The disciples wanted to send the people away to the villages so they could get something to eat.
Our Lord instead commanded His disciples to gather up the food available there and to feed the people. But the disciples assessed what was available and said it couldn’t be done… all they had were two fishes and five loaves of bread… they could not possibly fulfill the task that the Lord has asked of them.
Can we find fault in the logic and assessment of the disciples? From a rational, worldly outlook on life, we certainly cannot. There was no way that they could feed these thousands of people with such a meager collection of food. But the Lord tells them to bring their resources to Him. He blesses and fills with His grace the small and insufficient resources brought before Him and He then sends the disciples out to do the job He had asked of them, to feed the multitudes. The overflowing grace of God is apparent and the disciples end up with twelve baskets of leftovers after the crowd has had their fill.
The illustration for us is clear – we too must not become discouraged and assume that something is impossible based on our limited, worldly assessments. We must bring our cares, our desires, our insufficiencies to God and allow Him to bless and provide the grace and means for their accomplishment. ‘With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’
It is so easy to become discouraged, to think that our problems are too complex, too insurmountable for there to be any hope. We are like the disciples who look out upon the thousands of people and see our meager supplies and we give up hope. The Lord says ‘Bring them here to Me’. Bring your cares, your sorrows, your plans, your hopes, your fears – bring these to Me, says the Lord. We all suffer from insufficiencies of some kind. None of us have it all together and none of us have the independent means to fulfill all that the Lord would have us fulfill. There’s no shame in that… we have to look at things realistically and acknowledge our limitations.
But if we listen to Christ, Who says, ‘Bring your insufficiencies here to me’, and if we humbly and with faith and trust, bring ourselves before the Lord, He will perform miracles. The Apostle Peter echoes this when he writes, ‘Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exult you in due time, casting your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.’ (1 Peter 5:7,8)
This Gospel truth is applicable not only for those big challenges and crises in our lives, but for our day to day struggles with sin as well. Each one of us deals with various temptations that weigh us down and, perhaps, continually defeat us. We look upon our sins and, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, we say ‘it is impossible’, or perhaps we justify ourselves by saying ‘it’s just human nature… there’s no way I can overcome this’. But what does Christ say? He says ‘Bring them here to Me. With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible’.
Think about what we heard in the Epistle reading this morning… The Apostle Paul proclaims, ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’ Christ transforms the cruelest suffering, even death upon a cross, into triumph and the opening of the gates of Paradise! The cross becomes for us a symbol and a reminder of the victory of Christ, Who tramples down death by death!
Brothers and sisters in Christ… life is full of challenges and obstacles that threaten to bring us down into despair. We look upon our problems and sorrows and we come to the conclusion that it is impossible. I cannot overcome this sin. I cannot endure this suffering.
Let us heed the lesson of today’s holy Gospel: submitting our worldly assumptions and assessments of the impossibility of any situation, to faith and trust in God – bringing all things before the Lord and seeking His blessing, His grace, and His strength which overcomes all obstacles.
‘These things I have spoken to you,’ says the Lord, ‘that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.’