Friday 16 April 2021

Is there really nothing there?


 Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted

From John 6:1-15


Some years ago, on a flight to and from Budapest, my travelling companion and I got talking to the same couple, sharing as we did the same flights. As we waited to board the plane on the homeward journey, we compared notes about our visit. We absolutely loved the city and a had a great time. Meanwhile, their experience of the same place was quite different, and they spent most evenings in the ‘Hard Rock Cafe’ whilst we had taken delight in wandering away from such places, dining out in more ‘local’ places, tried to get to know the city as it was. It is all too easy to dismiss a places, to say “there is nothing there.” But get beneath the skin of a place, community, a town or suburb or city and one discovers a rich life worth living.

Perhaps the crowds who have followed Jesus appear to be in such a place. There, on the hillside, it appears there are no resources, there seems to be nothing there. After a little exploration, they discover a small boy with a few loaves and fish, and yet this, so the disciples think, still isn’t enough. ‘What is that between so many?’

As Jesus uses the small amount available in that place to feed thousands of people he shows us many things: his Lordship and kingship, his care and compassion, and he gives us a foretaste of the Eucharist, a small gift or gigantic proportions. He shows us, too, not to undervalue or overlook the ‘small things’ we think we have. We all have something to offer. Every person and place has something to offer, if only we scratch beneath the surface.


Lord God, open our eyes to the gifts and resources you have given us, and to use them to your glory and in your service and the service of others. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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