As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late;send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.’
But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?’ And he said to them, ‘How many loaves have you? Go and see.’ When they had found out, they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
As I read today’s Gospel, one that is so familiar to us, I wondered if there was anything to be said about the story that hasn’t already been said. The foreshadowing of the Eucharist, the importance of Jesus’ “table ministry”—entire books have been written on this passage. Then a wise coworker suggested I try the true Ignatian prayer of placing myself into the scene. She said that she imagined herself as one of the people being fed.
In praying with the Scripture in this way, I found myself wondering if the people who ate even realized that it was going on. With the exception of the disciples, and perhaps those who were very nearby, did people realize that 5,000 were fed with five loaves and two fish? Did they realize that they were the recipients of a miracle? If someone could miss the significance of what has become such a “famous” event in Jesus’ ministry, how easy it is for us to miss the significance of smaller moments in our own lives.
In this new year, is God inviting me to be more attentive to the “miracles” around me? How can I be more mindful of God’s presence each day? For me, it is a recommitment to praying the Examen every day, to take note of God active and working in the routine aspects of my life. For others, it might be a pledge to spend a few minutes in silence at the beginning of the day. Regardless of the method we choose, how can we be sure to not miss out on God’s miracles, both big and small, in our own lives?
—Lauren Gaffey is Director of Programs and Administration at Charis Ministries. Founded in 2000, Charis Ministries reaches those in their 20s and 30s nationwide, nurturing their faith through retreats based in Ignatian spirituality.www.charisministries.org
Lord, when we feel overwhelmed by either a problem or an opportunity, help us to be like your apostles. Though we may question our abilities, our strength, our resources, we will give you all that we have. Placed in your hands, directed by your grace, we trust that great good can occur. We will then not only dream, but we will dream twice as big because we are united with you.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!