Sunday 18 A
The Teacher said something quite strange. I am also poor and hungry. But he still said: “Give them something to eat yourself.” (Mt 14: 16) Is he joking or …kidding?!
No. He is saying it seriously: “Give them some food yourself.”
We all know the rest of the story. The Teacher used the five loaves of bread and the two little fish that belonged to a boy to feed a crowd of more than 5,000 men, not counting women and children yet. The portion of the boy might just be enough for one or two. But The Teacher responded to his generosity with God’s generosity. The Teacher helped him to feed more than ten thousand people, to say the least.
However my dear friend, the point I would like to invite you to meditate upon is the detail. As you know, when the crowd all ate, they picked up the fragments left over – twelve wicker baskets full. Everyone was satisfied. Then what happened to the twelve baskets of fragments? How were they used? How do you think?
I have a guess. Hopefully my guess is not wrong. I will tell you. But first of all, please allow me to present to you some bases for my reasoning.
You may remember the story of the hungry Jews in the desert. God gave them a kind of food called manna. They could eat as much as they needed each day. But manna would automatically become ‘wormy and rotten’ if they kept it more than necessary. (see Exodus 16) Moreover, as Christians, we learn by heart the prayer that Jesus himself taught us, the Our Father. In this prayer, we only read “Give us this day our daily bread”. We don’t read something else like “and we will store up the rest!”
OK, let me present my guess: The twelve baskets of fragments, if used in the spirit of Jesus, would be brought to others who were in need. They might not be attractive to the eyes of the satisfied, but they could be very significant to those who were hungry.
If you agree with me, please continue to go a little further to explore the question: Is Jesus reasonable when telling his poor disciples to feed the crowd?
Dear friend, life experience tells us that we may be poor, but at the same time, we still have something to share with others. Say, when we have some free time, let’s clean our house as if we were going to move to another place. Perhaps we will see some clothes that we haven’t touched for a long time, household accessories that are not used, money coins under beds or chairs, old fashionable but valuable jewels that will never be worn again, … Let’s call them “junk” for the moment.
Although they are “junk” unnecessary for our daily life, they still have some value. Maybe we are not unfamiliar with a popular story between two opposite situations: After dinner, he puts the left over into a plastic bag and throws it in the trash. So full! He climbs to his warm soft bed and falls into a sound sleep. During the night, besides his snoring, one also hears rustling sounds outside. Perhaps some rats! But, no, it’s not rats. It’s the sounds from a homeless boy looking into the trash cans. The shining star from above that has been following him suddenly twinkles with joy when seeing him smiling taking out a plastic bag from the trash – his main meal of the day.
Our (Vietnamese) ancestors had a saying that literally goes: “A piece when hungry is equivalent to a bundle when full.” A friend of mine practices this teaching by putting her change (i.e. money coins) into a ‘piggy bank’. She breaks her piggy bank at her birthday and gives it to the poor. Simple but wonderful! Of course there are many other ways.
We may not be rich. But the point being made here is that our “junk” or unnecessary things can become valuable gifts for someone else. It is still true to say “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Let’s make this following point clear: Our “junks” are not limited to material things but consist of a great diversity; for example, a few minutes among 1,440 minutes of each day to show our care for someone, an encouraging word among the ocean of noise, a gentle smile among hundreds of communication gestures, a sympathetic communication among numerous eye contacts, a moment of patience to fully listen to others’ ideas, a little card (or email) containing a loving message, a sincere prayer that only takes a few seconds for someone,…
Dear friend, we have good reasons to do these things because our Beloved Teacher has affirmed: “…I tell you with certainty, whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple will never lose his reward.” (Mt 10: 42) and “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25: 40)
There are still many brothers and sisters of ours who are ‘hungry and thirsty’ under different forms. Seeing all these situations, our Teacher Jesus is saying to us the words he said to the first disciples: “Give them something to eat yourself.” (Mt 14: 16, Mk 6:37, Lk 9:13)
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.
in Vietnamese: “Đầu thừa đuôi thẹo” —> https://only3minutes.wordpress.com/tieng-viet/d%E1%BA%A7u-th%E1%BB%ABa-duoi-th%E1%BA%B9o/
en Francais: “Nos camelotes” —> https://only3minutes.wordpress.com/french/nos-camelotes/