Jesus hosted a meal for an unexpected 5,000 plus guests and they ended up with as much as they wanted to eat. What can we learn from this story? Trust in the abundance of God!
Jesus provides us a model for service.
Jesus meets our basic need for food. Food is a human right!
Jesus didn’t act alone, but He encouraged His community of apostles. Jesus encouraged them and now us to be His hands to feed the hungry.
How do we do this? Let’s explore this in Jesus’ story.
Jesus encourages us to take risks, expect God to act, and to be grateful.
Is God asking you to take a risk? He asked the apostles to risk feeding a hungry crowd.
I volunteer with refugee families who are present day risk takers. They were torn from their homes. Upon arrival in the US, they receive 3 months of resettlement money--$1100 per person. Consider rent and meeting basic needs. For whom can 3 months be enough time to learn English and get employed? Then comes a life of poverty with minimum wage jobs and getting on welfare. Food insecurity, inability to provide food for your family on a consistent basis, is a daily reality. They have risked much to resettle. Their children risk. They take on the challenges of attending school. Some have missed years of schooling. Now they are fitting in with classmates and learning English. However, these families live with trust in life eventually improving. Their children are their hope.
Are you expecting God to act in your life? God delights in helping you.
Jesus put the apostles to a test asking how to feed the crowd. He asked “Where can we buy food for them?”
Phillip offered a budget review and Andrew found a boy with a lunch. Then came an expectation of what Jesus could do. Jesus says “Have the people sit down.” The crowd must have been expecting something more –maybe Jesus telling more stories? Can you hear the noise level rise in surprise as baskets of food came round?
Refugee teens own what fits in a suitcase. They get used to expecting nothing, but they do dream beyond their poverty.
Their expectations were high when Catholic Charities planned a party.
Gifts from donors were waiting, music and dancing, pizza, cake, and a selfie to remember the day. Look and see teens working overtime to adjust in this new culture. Expectations fulfilled above what they imagined came with gifts. Bags filled with cookies, fruit, vegetables and pizza went home. “Nothing was wasted.”
How do you live with an attitude of gratitude?
Refugee teens are stretched and rebound from many obstacles. I saw smiles and heard “Thank you” as they left the party. They were grateful!
Was there gratitude after Jesus fed the crowd? Jesus showed gratitude to His father in blessing the food. “The people had as much bread and fish as they wanted.”
What does Jesus’ crowd have in common with our refugees? Did they want to flee the oppressive Roman rule of Israel?
Did they struggle to feed their families? Would they be modern day refugees? The communal meal was a bright spot in their lives. After this meal, they wanted to thank Jesus by making him king. Jesus wanted them to trust in God’s abundance in His new kingdom.
What do we learn from Jesus multiplying the loaves and fish?
Jesus encourages us to take risks, expect God to act and be grateful. Like the boy with the loaves and fish, we, His people need to come with our resources.
These resources multiply ten-fold as we pray and ask our elected decision makers to promote legislation that ensures all families are food secure. Most of all from this story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, we can be open and grateful for endless possibilities. Jesus told us “You yourselves, give them something to eat.” How can we fulfill that command? Encourage everyone to be as generous as the boy who gave what little he had. Then God can multiply the work in our communities to end hunger.
Ellen Buelow is a retired teacher who enthusiastically gives back to her community in Albuquerque, N.M. She graduated from the University of Dayton with a BS in Education and has several masters degrees in education. She taught in Ohio, New Mexico and Colorado.
Ellen has three daughters and her husband, Larry volunteered with her at Catholic Charities. As a Bread for the World member and the advocacy chair for the Interfaith Hunger Coalition she joins others to solve food insecurity in New Mexico. Over several years the Interfaith Hunger Coalition helped craft the 2021 Food, Hunger and Agriculture Bill. As a Bread for the World member, Ellen and other advocates presented Zoom workshops to NM’s three congressional districts to give testimony to NM’s legislative committees about this bill.
Ellen has volunteered with Catholic Charities in the archdiocese of Santa Fe since 2006. She enjoys working with refugee youth and their families. Ellen was Catholic Charities’ volunteer of the year in 2012. Her faith community is Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.
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