In the name of the God the Creator, Jesus the Liberator, and the Holy Spirit the Sustainer. AMEN.
We live in a rational world. And we are rational people for the most part. I think we can identify with Phillip’s response to Jesus about feeding the crowds. Phillip too the rational, responsible approach. Basically Phillip told Jesus “no way.” No way we could feed those people. The task it too daunting. The crowd way too large. The budget definitely way too small to accomplish this goal.
I can imagine Phillip thinking it is a great idea Lord, but unfortunately we just can’t pull it off right now.
Then Andrew pipes up – “Hey I found a boy with some bread and fish.” Sort of the equivalent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Imagine having a huge crowd around and pulling out a PBJ to share with them. As Andrew says: but what is a PBJ among so many people? He probably regrets ever blurting it out to start with. What good is that?
So far in our story we have looked at the one who threw up his hands and gave up without a fight thinking the problem insurmountable. We have the one who offered the only solution he could see, but realized how foolish it was.
But we see that for Jesus, the foolish solution was the right one. Jesus prays over what little there is and begins to pass it out. And he keeps passing and passing and passing. All are fed from this one PBJ sandwich. This is not a very rational event.
Now many people in our times have problems with the irrational, with the miraculous. They try to explain them away as some sort of misunderstanding of an earthly phenomena. They need to strive for a rational application.
But not everything in the world can have a rational explanation. And to tell the truth for me it is not really important if a person believes in miracles or not. I sometimes think Jesus was a reluctant miracle working anyway. Jesus ended up having to hide from the crowd after this one.
It is not the miraculous that is important in this story. It is the people who are important. Phillip, Andrew, the crowd, and Jesus. This is where the heart of the story lies. The truth of this story is no if a miracle happened or not, but how we can encourage our faith. When we read this story where do we find ourselves?
Perhaps we see a bit of Phillip in ourselves. Looking at the situation from the rational point of view and finding it hopeless. Perhaps we are facing the hopeless in our own life right now.
Or possibly we see ourselves as an Andrew. We want to get in there and solve the insurmountable problem we are facing but when we unveil our solution it seems foolish even to us.
Or perhaps we are in the crowd. Not sure what in the world is going on but hopeful of being fed.
No matter where we find ourselves the key is that Jesus does not abandon or give up on us. We may give up on ourselves or others but Jesus never does.
Jesus is waiting for us to offer up the seemingly foolish solutions. Jesus is waiting to perform miracles with them. Just like he has been doing here at St. Peter’s.