My house is quiet this morning. I pray that whatever I write comes out well, because this may never happen again.
But seriously, my husband and I are blessed with three children under the age of 5. Which means it’s not usually quiet around here.
Naturally, the character who jumps out to me in this week’s Gospel is not mentioned specifically. No, it’s not Jesus, not the disciples, not even the adorable boy with the five barley loaves and two fish. The character who catches my attention is the boy’s mom.
His mom is one of those super-organized, really-clean, plan-ahead types. I don’t fall into that category (I’m more of a “jump now ask questions later” sort of mom), but I try to surround myself with these organized people, to keep things balanced. Anyway.
This organized mom prepares food for a daytrip with her kids. Her eldest, a son, is super inquisitive and likes to help with everything. (Being the eldest myself, from a family of seven siblings, the precocious first-born thing is totally part of my life experience.)
So the eldest son is listening intently, doing his best to honor his mom, and trying to help with everything. She tells him about caring for the poor, about being ready to share some of your belongings with strangers in need.
They bring a little extra food, just in case.
The mom and her children finally find Jesus and His followers. They sit down with the huge crowd to hear Him teach. Her eldest is enthralled by His words, and keeps looking back to give his mom a huge smile.
Cue lunch time.
Her kids get hungry, so the well-prepared mom pulls out the food they brought. Meanwhile, her son notices that Jesus and His disciples don’t have anything to eat. Being a precocious first-born, he picks up on the lesson from their talk that day. He asked his mom if they can share their food with Jesus’ disciples.
This is the part that makes me question my own generosity.
She hesitates as she looks down at their food. Is it enough for their family? Definitely. Is it enough to share even with a few extra people? Of course!
But what could this little meal, though beautifully prepared, do for the Rabbi and a dozen of His followers?
(Pausing now to put this into perspective: Jesus was famous! He was curing people left and right. His disciples, especially those closest to Him, must have seemed like the Avengers or the Dream Team or the Green Bay Packers to this child!)
The mom and her son lock eyes. His are pleading with hers to step out in faith, to take the chance, to see what happens. She thinks of the words she just heard from the Rabbi about belief in God. She remembers hearing how He turned water into wine at a wedding recently, how He cured a royal officer’s son from a terrible fever, and how a lame man could walk because of Him.
She nods her approval. The smile returns to her son’s face, his little legs race excitedly to talk with the disciples. You probably know the rest of the story. Jesus blessed the loaves, breaks them, and distributes them to the entire crowd (plus as much fish as everyone wanted)!
Not only did everyone eat their fill, but they had a surplus! I can only imagine what the disciples did with the left-overs.
Can you picture the young mom, her beaming son, and her other children coming home with a huge basket full of bread and fish that night? They received so much more than they gave that day!
Whether the disciples actually sent some of the extras home with this generous family, I’m not certain. But I believe the lesson they learned from seeing their gift go beyond their family, beyond the disciples, beyond the multitude, changed their hearts forever.
Looking into my own heart now, I ask myself: Will I share my gifts even when they seem like a little bit?
Just as this boy (and his mom!?) chose to share in that moment, I also choose to return what I’ve been given, back to Christ. It might seem little to me, but in His hands, a little bit goes a long way! Perhaps, like the five loaves and two fish that day on the hill, my gifts will go much, much farther than I could ever imagine.
A little bit, blessed, broken and shared, might be more than enough for my family, more than enough for our friends, and even more than enough for a multitude of hungry people around us.
Okay, the quietness of this morning is now broken by little voices. I’d better stop imagining, and go join my husband and kids. It’s breakfast time.