God has given to each person, whether a believer or not, certain gifts and talents to assist others. When we are faced with the needs of others, sometimes our temptation is to excuse them away to others maybe because we fear we don’t have enough resources, or maybe we think we don’t have time. In either case, it is only when we allow God to bless others through our cooperation, through our efforts, that God’s mercy and blessing is experienced by others. When we accept our role as coworkers with God, not only will there be enough time and resources, in fact there will be an excess of leftovers.
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This morning, my brothers and sisters in the gospel, Christ makes it clear to us that his desire for us is to be his coworkers. This morning's story in the gospel is the feeding of the 5,000 and the gospel sets up the story, there's this large crowd and Christ is healing them and taking care of them and it's getting late in the afternoon and they're out in the wilderness. They're out away from the city and the disciples say to Christ, "Send them away." He says, "Send them away that they may go into the villages and buy themselves some food."
Seems innocent enough, right? It's the late hour they've been there all day long and the disciples thinking that they're trying to keep Jesus on task, we would say in today's understanding; trying to keep Jesus on task. He says, "Look, it's getting late. Send them away so they can get some food, something to eat."
Christ says, "They don't have to go away. You give them something to eat." And they said, "But we don't have enough. We have only these two fish and five loaves of bread. How are we going to feed all these people?" And you know, the rest of the story. Of course he takes it and the 5,000 men, not including women and children, are fed to being filled. They didn't just get one teeny piece of bread. They were filled and on top of all that, there were 12 baskets of leftovers. Imagine that day, witnessing that power of God; the power that is shown when we are willing to be his coworkers.
It said in the gospel that when they complained, they didn't have enough food, Christ said, "Well, bring the bread and the fish to me." So he blessed them and he gave to the disciples and the disciples gave it to the people. Christ didn't do it himself. He worked through the disciples and my brothers and sisters for those who are in need in our society and there are so many who are in need, God blesses them through us. God helps them through us and sometimes we are tempted because of the late hour maybe, because we don't think we have enough resources, we're tempted to make sure that, send them to the Shepherd Center, send them away. Send them to the take care of themselves. And today Christ is reminding us, you give them the food.
My brothers and sisters, each one of us has received gifts from God. All of us have something that God has given us that when we allow God to work through us, is a blessing to other people. It might be bread. It might be fish. It might be some kind of talent. It might be some kind of knowledge. But nonetheless, only when we let God work through us, will our resources be a blessing to other people. Otherwise, they're just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.
But when we reach out to the hungry, to the naked, to the lonely, to those who are in prison, those stuck and excluded. When we reach out my brothers and sisters, not only is there enough, but there's even extra to go around. That's the great mystery and the great challenge of this morning's gospel and so we are now day two of the fast for Panagia and the church is already reminding us not to focus on ourselves. The church is already trying to inspire us to use the resources that God has given us, whether it is physical resources, money, for example, to go and help so many who have lost their jobs or who are hungry because of this health crisis.
Don't look at the government and say that's the government's job. It's our job, my brothers and sisters, to help. We must be the coworkers of God and when we allow that, there is an overflowing abundance of his love and his mercy and his grace. Glory to God through all things.
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