Last Sunday's gospel reading was about Jesus feeding the five thousand. The priest praying the Mass gave a homily that has provided me much food for thought (pun intended), especially as I begin the task of preparing for another year of homeschooling.
The gospel speaks about the sheer number of people that followed Jesus out into a deserted place. As evening approaches the disciples notice the growing problem of the hungry crowds and go to Jesus and expect him to solve the problem. They want Jesus to send the people away. Instead Jesus says to them, "Give them some food yourselves." The disciples responded with how little they had. They knew that five loaves and two fishes were certainly not enough to feed the throngs of people that had gathered. Yet Jesus has them bring him their measly portion and then, "he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds." Not only were all the people fed from those meager portions, but there were leftovers-- baskets full of them. Matthew 14:13-21 was the full reading.
How often we are confronted with what seem to be insurmountable problems. How often we want Jesus to send away those problems, just like the disciples wanted Jesus to send the crowds home. We want him just to take care of the problem without having to give up anything. Instead Jesus wants all that we have no matter how insignificant and inadequate it may seem. He wants us to offer it to him. His blessing, and his breaking of that gift miraculously take our inadequacies and they are used for far more than we imagined possible.
Last week our new schoolbooks were delivered and in all honesty a weight was put on my heart. The task of schooling our children is my "crowd in the desert" problem. Sometimes just getting them all dressed and fed is a feat. In a few short weeks I add the monumental task of academic endeavors and continued faith formation.
I'm standing here with my measly five loaves and two fishes looking at the task in front of me and I think it may be utterly impossible. I'm impatient, often quick-tempered, sharp tongued, and easily distracted. I have only two hands to try to keep up with twelve. Can I really do it? I'm tempted to ask Jesus to send the problem away as the disciples did.
Father reminded me, however, that if we bring those five loaves and two fishes to him, bring him the little we have to offer, he will bless it, break it, and use it to accomplish what is impossible on our own. My five loaves and two fishes are painfully inadequate and yet, if I offer them to Jesus, he will feed the five thousand with them. Blessed and broken, with Jesus, we will have another successful school year.
Here's hoping that the leftover baskets will equate to laundry being done and dinners on the table :)