“Here is My Crumb” By Rachael Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

There is a lot of relatable emotion in this Sunday’s gospel. People feel tired, hungry, inadequate. Maybe that’s why I love this passage so much – there is a lot to relate to. Jesus is sad after hearing the bad news of his cousin, John the Baptist. He is exhausted. He goes to a deserted place to be by himself and is then bombarded by over 5,000 people. I know my reaction would be annoyance. Really? I came out here to get away from you people. I just need to be by myself. But it says that Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them. And he went out to them and cured the sick, despite feeling empty and tired himself.

When it was getting pretty late, the disciples point out to Jesus that the crowd is hungry, and the they advise Jesus to dismiss the crowds so they can go to the villages and buy food. Jesus’ response is “That’s not necessary. Trust me. What do we have to work with here?” Wait – what?! This is absurd. The crowd is enormous, I have no food on me. To feed this kind of crowd, I’d need to spend a year’s worth of my salary, and then how would I get the food to everyone? I don’t have any donkeys to carry baskets of food. This is ridiculous. How could you ask this of me? I am thoroughly unqualified to do this.

All Jesus has to work with is five loaves of bread and 2 fishes. If you want to do the math here, there were 5,000 families, so that’s one loaf of bread per 1,000 families. I’m not a math professor, but let’s say everyone gets a whole .00025 of a fish. Not a lot to work off of. But Jesus does something amazing. He prays over the food, and they begin to hand out bread and fish to the crowd, and somehow, the baskets they pass around seem to have an endless supply. The gospel reports: “They all ate and were satisfied” and then had more leftover than what they had started with.

Sometimes, we don’t think we have a lot to offer. There have been times in my life when I have felt completely inadequate for something I felt God was calling me to do. Have you ever felt like that? Seriously, God, you should have asked someone who was better, smarter, older, funnier – why am I here? Why am I the one to comfort this person? Why do I have to solve this problem? Maybe you’re a student or in a new job, or maybe you’re a parent and you feel this way. I don’t know how I’m supposed to succeed here.

But God says to us in reply “I know you can’t handle this on your own. You’re not supposed to.” And like he does with the people in the large crowd, he asks “What do we have to work with here?” Our answer might be, “Not much. I don’t even have one loaf of bread. Here is my crumb. That’s all I’ve got to offer.” And Jesus says, “Great. Thank you for your crumb, this is perfect.” And then God takes it, and he multiplies it, and he makes a feast. Even if we give God a little, He can do a lot with it.

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