Friday of the 2nd Week of Easter

The famous story of the loaves and fishes.  Today we read about it in John’s Gospel.  We all know the story.  We’ve heard it a thousand times.  Jesus feeds 5,000 with five loaves and two fish and has even more food left, twelve baskets full, than He started with; an obvious miracle.

If we’ve heard the story a thousand times, then we’ve heard a thousand homilies about it.  What can I possibly say that hasn’t been said already?  The answer is nothing.  But I will say this with apologies to anyone who might have said the same thing before.  This isn’t the only instance where Jesus has turned something small into something big.  In fact, He does it all the time.

Look at your own faith for example.  Jesus returned to heaven on Pentacost, the end of the season of easter.  He left twelve men in charge of His Church.  That was it.  Twelve guys who weren’t very impressive; mostly fishermen and tax collectors.  Yet today there are a billion Catholics in the world.  It’s a miracle that makes the loaves and fishes miracle look tiny by comparison.  And you and I are part of that miracle.

Someone taught us the faith so that we can teach it to others.  It’s been that way since the very beginning.  Today we face a serious challenge.  We don’t just have to teach new people the meaning of the Gospel, we have to remind others who’ve already been taught it that nothing has changed.  Some say that as many as 70 percent of people who call themselves Catholics don’t go to mass on a regular basis.  If you don’t believe it, just think about the crowds that were at mass on Easter.  That was two Sundays ago.  You may have noticed that there were a lot more empty seats last Sunday.

Today’s Gospel is a reminder that we have a part to play in salvation history.  It’s what the Church calls the “new evangelization.”  It means that we’re all called to reach out to our fallen-away brothers and sisters.  We hear a lot about the vocation crisis; not enough priests to staff our churches.  But what we’re really seeing is a crisis of faith.  If only three in ten Catholics bother to go to mass, what are the chances of having a surplus of priests?  I’d say slim and none.

But today’s Gospel gives us hope for the future.  It reminds us that Jesus can do great things with just a little.  Whether it’s feeding 5,000 people with just a little food, or continuing the faith with just a few people, everything is possible with God.  Just as Jesus needed help to distribute food to all those people, He needs our help to spread the faith to all the people who need it.

Some of us are called to preach so it’s obvious what we have to do.  But for the rest, it may seem like more of a challenge.  But I can guarantee you that someone is watching you.  Someone is observing your faith and wondering how it might fit in their lives.  It may be a family member or a friend or even someone you don’t even know, but they’re there.  You don’t have to be all preachy and holy, you just have to live a good life, come to mass, and let others see how satisfied and fulfilled you are.

We can feed others just like Jesus did.

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