In today’s first reading (17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – 2 Kings 4:42-44) we hear the story of what I will call a “small” miracle. The event happens in a time of drought. So, water is scarce. That means the harvest would have been scarce. During this time a man brought twenty barley loaves to Elisha. There are a hundred people there. Could twenty loaves be enough to feed one hundred people? It would be enough to give everyone some but it won’t seem like anywhere near enough to satisfy them all, let alone have “some left over.” Yet, the Lord said there would be. The Lord did indeed fed his people that day and there was some left over. I call this a “small” miracle because twenty loaves would be enough to give one hundred people some but not enough. The hand of the Lord must have multiplied what was given.
In the gospel, we witness Jesus do what happened with Elisha on a much larger scale. The Lord fed one hundred people in Elisha’s day. Now, with Jesus, there are 5,000 men. That’s fifty times more not counting women and children. In Elisha’s day there were twenty barley loaves. In Jesus’ day there were just there were just five barley loaves (plus two fish).
This is the fourth of seven great signs as told in John’s Gospel. These signs show the power of God at work in Jesus so that the people will come to know him as the Son of God. How else could so many be fed with so little except through the power of God?
Jesus “knew what he was going to do” but He wanted to make sure his disciples realized the significance of it. Thus Jesus ‘said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”‘ Philip responded, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” Philip recognized that it would be impossible to feed so many? Or would it?
Remember, “Nothing is impossible for God.” Thus, there is hope. Andrew offered some hope when he said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish.” Yet, even though he offers hope, Andrew questions “what good are these for so many?”.
What good? It is a beginning. The boy offers what little he has. From what the boy offers, Jesus does something amazing. Jesus multiples what the boy offered to make it so much more, so much more that there are twelves wicker baskets left over. They finish with more than they started with.
Do you ever feel like a task before you is impossible? Do you think that what you have to offer is not enough? Do not be afraid. God can take what you offer and multiply it according to his plan.