Our faith and the enormity of the problem faced

This coming Sunday the Church celebrates The Solemnity of Corpus Christi. In yesterday’s post we find the apostles hesitating and falling back on the ways of the world. When faced with the enormity of feeding more than 5,000 they fall back on sensible courses of action. 13 He said to them, ‘Give them some food yourselves.’ They replied, ‘Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.’

The disciples’ response cannot have been pleasing to Jesus’ ears. True, their resources are few unless they either (a) buy food for the multitudes or (b) await upon a miracle from Jesus. Their long experience of life before Jesus becomes operative enforced by the fact they have taken no money (v.3). It seems as though Luke is describing the continuous test that awaits all who would minister in the name of Jesus. The presence of the crowds and their needs is unveiled as a test to their faith, a test in the face of which the disciples struggle. If the disciples’ faith is not adequate on this occasion, this is surely due to the enormity of the problem with which they are confronted. The narrator seems to underscore this in a narrative aside at the beginning of v.14: “Now the men there numbered about five thousand.” Against the meager resources represented by five loaves and two fish, the need is great indeed. The stage is thus set for a manifestation of miraculous benevolence of immense proportions.

Then he said to his disciples, ‘Have them sit down in groups of (about) fifty.’ 15 They did so and made them all sit down. 16 Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.

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