Feb. 17, 2005


Do the Math

John 6:1-13 (NRSV)
After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?" He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, "Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?" Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost." So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.

Andrew said, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"
-John 6:9 (NIV)

THERE were 5,000 men in the crowd (not counting women and children), and Jesus asked Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" Philip responded, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" (NIV) In Philip's mind, the numbers simply did not add up. Feeding such a large crowd of people was impossible for Philip, but Jesus did it.

When I encounter difficulties I often ask myself over and over, How can I do this? Sometimes it seems just impossible. It is not until I ask Christ to help me that a solution comes. Christ can create abundance where all I see is scarcity. Jesus said, "All things are possible with God" (Mark 10:27). When the numbers do not add up, we can remember this promise.
Vincent J. O'Brien (New York, U.S.A.)

Holy Father, remind us to rely on you for all things. We pray as Jesus taught us, saying, "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."*

*Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)