The feeding of the multitude. Now I was giving this talk to a prayer group and so I read the Gospel and prayed about it and reflected and jutted down notes, etc. etc. I was ready. I was going to speak on the four attitudes that I saw present in John's Gospel: the crowd, Philip, Andrew and Jesus. Just as I was about to begin I asked for prayer and they prayed for the Spirit of God to fall on me. Then I started, setting up the four attitudes when the Spirit corrected me right then and there. It was not four at all but five! All these years I had heard and read the Gospel and always saw four when there was five, the fifth being the nameless little boy. He was so important to the story but I had simply shunted him off to the side. I guess I'm a good apostle and disciple because the Twelve also tried to send the children away only to be rebuked by Jesus for that. And so my four attitudes became five. The question remains the same however; which one best describes me?
First there is the crowd following Jesus because of the signs he was performing on the sick. It is either they had the what I call a 'gimme, gimme' mentality, only there for waht they could get or they were just curious about the spectacular so that Jesus became somewhat of a sideshow performer for them. Is my christianity like that? I'm ashamed to say 'sometimes'.
Secondly there is Philip: practical, pragmatic, probably left-brained like myself. He quickly assesses the situation and declares: impossible. Too many people, not enough money. 'For-geddaboutit', move on. Now I am an accountant by profession, driven by logic, and the cold factuality of numbers. They either add up or they don't. I could be with Philip on this one; the numbers didn't add up.
Thirdly there's Andrew. He saw the situation also but unlike Philip he did not declare 'impossible', he was more leaning more toward 'improbable'. He'd seen Jesus do some miraculous things so maybe, just maybe. But he doubted, his words convicted him: "what good would that do?" I've been there with Andrew many times. I say I believe in Jesus, I say I know him but many times I ask "what good would that do?"
Fourthly was Jesus who simply "knew what he was going to do". If they were hungry he was going to feed them, if they were sick he was going to heal them, if they were lost he was going to find them, if they were condemned sinners he was going to redeem them. He always "knew what he was going to do." What about me? Don't ask.
There we have it. No wait! I forgot the little boy again didn't I? I can imagine him hearing the 'grown-ups' talk about hunger and need and lack then he looks at his lunch basket with five loaves and two fish and knows he's got enough. I can see him pulling at Andrew's garments but never taking his eyes off Jesus who is also looking and nodding at him; 'come'. Little children are like that: they do believe.
My nephew Aidan is almost four. He's at that age where superheroes can fly or leap over tall buildings or lift cars with their hands. He looked at the cobwebs hanging from the ceiling (smile) and believed that Spiderman was at my house. Aidan can fly, shoot webs and cling to walls because he believes he can. He'll believe a Macdonald's Happy Meal could end world hunger.
That's what Jesus wants from us; that childlike (not childish) faith. If I could just trust him and bring what little I have, the little which forces me to say 'impossible' or 'improbable', just give it to him without doubt or hesitation then he can do wonders with it. You see he's the miracle worker not me.
We all know the rest of the story: there was enough and more. It is the nature of God, not simply to be 'enough' but even 'more'.
And so I am learning that as I journey towards Christ that maybe just maybe I need to be less Michel and more Aidan. Peace.
God is good all the time and all the time God is good!