Feeling inadequate…

“… but what are they among so many?”

John 6:9b (RSV)

In all four Gospels, we have the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand (Mt 14: 13-21, Mark 6:32-44, Luke 9: 10-17 and here in John 6:1-15). 

As children we perhaps heard about the little child who had a nice lunch with him that, presumably, his mom had packed for him when he went to see and hear Jesus.  Most of the grown-ups in the crowd were not so well prepared.  In any case, Jesus in these passages asks the disciples what they have on hand to feed the multitude lying before them, and all they can come up with is this little lunch of a few sardines and a couple of pita breads.  This is when Andrew, Peter’s brother and the one who had originally introduced Peter to Jesus, says the obvious: “…but what are these among so many?

Know that feeling?  I dare to say that all of us have felt that from time to time.  We’re out of time, money, energy, patience, hope, you name it, and we’re facing not a “multitude”, but perhaps our spouse, our kids, our work, some project or endeavor – something we need to be or do and we’re feeling entirely inadequate to the challenge.

The only way forward is a change of perspective.  Of course our resources are inadequate – we are supposed to feel like this – often.  For that feeling is the holy reminder we need in order to remember first and always that Jesus is here, that we’re not alone.  He told us that He would never forsake us or leave us alone to manage life by ourselves.  When we remember that reality, that promise, we can refocus,  hand over to Him our inadequate resources and let Him do with those what He wants. 

He can feed the multitude with just a little lunch.

“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered me by setting me free.  The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.”

Psalm 118:5-6a