They respond to Jesus, "We only have five loaves and two fish."
Isn't it like us? When Jesus asks us to go and give and serve and love and we bring our excuses and our measly offerings.
But I don't have time.
I am not good at that.
What if I make a fool of myself?
That's not the position I want; I want something better!
We bring our excuses and God multiplies them to feed those around us who are hungry. THAT, is beautiful. It is the hopeful and triumphant knowledge that it is not so much about what (little) we have, but about the God who multiplies what we are willing to offer up.
Today though, I read this all differently. I happen to be studying the book of Matthew. I realized that this story comes just after one of great sadness and tragedy. John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, has just been beheaded at the whim of a wicked woman who didn't like being called out because of her sin.
I can only imagine that even though Jesus knew this was going to happen....it still broke his heart. His cousin was faithful, proclaiming the kingdom of God and a baptism of repentance, and he died a cruel death at the hand of unjust sinners. It must have had a particular sting, as Jesus thought about what was ahead for Him.
So Jesus departs from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. He wanted to be alone to process it all and to pray.
But the people followed Him.
Perhaps that is one of the hardest things about grief or pain or sorrow....is that even as you're trying to process and pray and find your way through it, the needs around you don't stop.
I'm human. I get frustrated in this moment, thinking to myself, "I can't meet your needs because I'm trying to process my own needs and emotions."
But Jesus. When He saw the great multitude of needs before Him, He was MOVED. Moved with compassion. As in, His lovingkindness was so large that it moved Him beyond His own pain and grief.
And then the people are hungry and the disciples bring them the five loaves and the two fish.
But what happens before the food is multiplied?
The loaves and the fish....the meager offerings of the disciples....
They are blessed.
They are broken.
Before the offering could be handed out and made useful to the hungry people, it had to be blessed....consecrated and set aside....and it had to be broken.
Sigh. Sometimes it is so hard to see that I am both blessed and broken. I easily see one or the other, but rarely both at the same time. Sometimes the hard places in our hearts have to be broken in order to be useful. It is often not until we are broken that it can give way to the kind of compassion that MOVES us.
But the loaves and the fish were blessed, they were broken, and then they were used to feed and bless and meet the needs of many.
And after it is all done, and the needs are met, Jesus went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. There was still so much to process and pray about.
This morning, I am here, with Jesus. I bring my measly offering, my excuses, and even my impatience at the needs around me. I want HIS lovingkindness to MOVE me to have compassion for the needs around me. I want to be used to meet the needs of others and to point people to the Kingdom that is lasting and true.
And in this longing to be used for His Kingdom, I find myself just like the offering of the disciples:
Blessed. And Broken.