Paul had received a special pre-Christmas gift from his rich brother. It was a beautiful car. On Christmas eve when Paul came out of his office, a street kid was walking about that shiny new care and admiring it. "Is this your car?" the kid asked. When he replied that it was and that his brother had given it to him for Christmas, the boy said, "You mean your brother gave it to you, and it didn't cost you anything? Free? For nothing? Gosh I wish..." the boy hesitated, and Paul knew what he was about to say. He had heard it many times over the past few days. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the boy said shocked Paul. "I wish," the boy said, "I wish I could be a brother like that." We can be a brother like that or a sister like that. All it takes is that we cease to worry about how little we have, and begin instead to think about what it is that we can offer to others, as the little boy in today's gospel story did, by sharing his bread and fish with the multitude through Jesus.
In the first reading today, acting through the prophet Elisha, God fed about 100 people with 20 barley loaves. The fathers of the Church recognized this miraculous feeding of Elisha as a type of and prelude for Jesus' feeding of the multitude in today's gospel, an event that itself foreshadowed his gift of Himself in the Eucharist which continues to nourish believers.
In the second reading, Paul reminds the Ephesians that Jesus united the Jews and the gentiles, bringing them together as Christians in one faith and Baptism. Hence, he advises them to keep the unity intact as one body and spirit by living as true Christians, "bearing with one another in love," with humility, gentleness, patience, and peace. We are the ones called to feed the hungry today. As members of the body of Christ, we need to remember that miracles can happen through our prayers, our donations, and our hands when we help Him to distribute to the hungry the food destined for all by our generous God.
In today's gospel, Jesus meets the most basic human need, hunger - with generosity and compassion. God really cares. There is enough and more than enough for everybody. Study shows that the world today produces enough food grains to provide every human being on the planet with 3,600 calories a day. Over the past 25 years food production has exceeded world population growth by about 16%. This means that there is no good reason for any human being in today's world to go hungry. But even in a rich country like USA, one child out of five grows up in poverty, three million are homeless, and 4,000 unborn babies are aborted everyday. Pope John XXIII said (Mater et Magisteria, 1961), "The problem in feeding the world's hungry population lies with our political lack of will, our economic system biased in favor of the affluent, our materialism, and our tendency to blame the victims of social tragedies such as famine. We all share responsibility for the fact that populations are undernourished. Therefore, it is necessary to arouse a sense of responsibility in individuals, especially among those more blessed with this world's goods."
The criteria of society is not the criteria used by the Lord. Jesus says those who are to be considered great in his kingdom are those who give their lives in service to others. One could say that in the world, greatness is measured by what one has. In Jesus' Kingdom it is measured by what one gives away, whether it is treasure or time or one's talent for the benefit of another. There is no need for special timing or position or place, but only a good heart of charity and the desire and effort to use it.
We need to commit ourselves to share with other and to work with God in communicating His compassion. It it easy to blame God; it's easy to see things as other people's problems. They are our problems. Through this Eucharist we work with God in communicating His compassion to all. God is a caring Father; He wants our cooperation to be part of His caring for all of His children.
God blesses those who share their treasures and talents with loving commitment. This is illustrated by Mother Teresa, who went to serve the slum dwellers of Calcutta with just 20 cents in her pocket. When she died 49 years later, God had turned those 20 cents into 80 schools, 300 mobile care centers, 70 leprosy clinics, 30 homes for the dying, 30 orphanages, and 40,000 volunteers from all over the world to help her. We would say, "I do not have enough money or talent to make any difference." So, we started, and we are closing our parishes, our schools. We are running short of everything, even of ourselves.
Let us take the example of that small boy with bread and fish. We all have at least one gift from the Holy Spirit - one tiny fish. God will make use of it if you let him. Let us offer ourselves to God saying, "Here is what I am (Lord) and what I have Lord; use me, use it." He will bless us and bless our offering, amplifying it beyond our expectations.