Common Miracles – Good News for April 16

16 04 2010

John 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.”

One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”

Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.

When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

The Daily Path: “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”

I’ve heard stories of the days of The Great Depression in the U.S…. yes, that would be the FIRST one that began in 1929 and lasted for most of a decade. During those times relatively few people had abundant reserves of anything. Yet, it was common for those who had a little something to share it with those who had nothing. A meal intended for four was stretched to provide sustenance for seven. More water and another precious potato was thrown into a pot of soup so the family next door could eat.

Once again, we are experiencing widespread economic crisis. I don’t think I need to remind anyone of what is going on. All you have to do is follow the news. However, today’s Gospel from John is very timely for all of us…

Common miracles occur every day. The realm of miracles is not that of Jesus alone to perform. Each of us are miracle workers in our own way. Miracles come in all shapes and sizes. Was one neighbor providing a helping of soup to another neighbor a colossal act? Of course not. It was a small sacrifice, but no less a miracle to the out-of-work father who couldn’t provide a meal to his children that evening.

Friends, I see miracles as the act of sharing our abundance. We all have some form of abundance, no matter how difficult our situation may be. There is always something that can be shared with others in need. And it’s not always about money. You’d be amazed at how a few words of encouragement shared at just the right moment can have a lasting and profound impact on someone who may be feeling desperate. Perhaps you have a skill or even just some time to share that can make a huge difference in one life or many. I’ll bet if you took a quick mental inventory of what you have to share, you’d be amazed at the abundance in your possession.

In this Gospel, we see how the fear harbored by Philip – over expense – was overcome by the hope of Andrew who saw where abundance existed. A few fish and a couple of loaves ultimately satisfied five thousand.

What’s in your basket of miracles?





Hear Him Out – Good News for March 20

20 03 2010

John 7: 40-53

Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, “This is truly the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.”
But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David’s family and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So a division occurred in the crowd because of him.
Some of them even wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not bring him?” The guards answered, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.” So the Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.”

Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them, “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” They answered and said to him, “You are not from Galilee also, are you? Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” Then each went to his own house.

The Daily Path: This passage hit me like a 400 lb. defensive end – translation for those of you who don’t follow sports: to be run over by a freight train. The words of Nicodemus ring out with such clarity. There are many times I have judged an individual or situation before knowing the truth. Perhaps I have jumped on the bandwagon of “popular belief” without having any experience in the truth.

What is even more hard hitting to me is that Nicodemus question doesn’t just pertain to condemnation of an accused. I would say that the question applies to so much more.

The other day I wrote about the ability to touch the wounds of Christ. The desire to embrace the leper. How can we choose to stand by as so many around us suffer when we have NO TRUE CONCEPT of what it is like to walk in their shoes? Yesterday, I waited at a stop light in downtown Oakland. A homeless woman walked slowly through the intersection. There was a time in my life when I would have become very impatient with her to get out of the way so I could proceed on my way. But this time, I looked into her eyes and saw an experience I could not begin to understand at any real depth. This moment was not about judgment – it was about opening my mind and wanting to understand. I wanted to hear her out.

Is it not also true about the faith journey? Why would I condemn Islam when I know little of it? Do I chose to hate millions because of the acts of a few? Why do so many hate Catholics when they know nothing of us? Or Jews? Or Buddhists? Or the local plumbers union for that matter. I could go on and on, but the point is that Nicodemus asks us to be mindful of experiencing the truth before we rush to judgement. Oh, my… this is a question for the ages.

Hear Him out… whoever and whatever “him” might be.