My Dear Sisters and Brothers! We gather today in this Church, like we do every Sunday or some of us even every day. We come here not like the MasterChef contestants and judges who have an abundance of recourses. Rather we come here like the people from the Gospel who left everything they had, at least for a day, to listen to Jesus. We know that they left everything because they didn’t have even the basics to eat. They followed Jesus to ‘a lonely place’ leaving everything behind. They followed Jesus in their poverty. We come here in our poverty too.
This church is our lonely place. It is lonely not because there is no one here. Even in the Gospel the place where people found Jesus could hardly be described lonely. After all a few thousand people gathered there. This place, our church, is lonely not in terms of the absence of people but because of the absence of recourses we have come to believe, or have been made to believe, we cannot live without. Commercials, social pressure together with our desire to have more and more have made us ‘hoarders.’ We accumulate things because in them we see life. This church, this Eucharist is God’s given a materialism detox for us. That’s why this Sunday I would like us to pay attention to the group of the disciples who were with Jesus.
I realise that in the crowd of many thousand people they can be overlooked easily. It is even easier to overlook ‘the five loaves and two fish’ the disciples had initially. I don’t want us to overlook these details. To be honest they are not details, they are crucial elements of this passage to absorb the mystery of the miracle Jesus performed there, in ‘the lonely place.’
The disciples we meet in the Gospel today had just enough to get them through another day. They took to heart what Jesus said some time earlier: ‘Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts, no bag for a journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff.’ What the disciples had was five loaves and two fish. Enough food for their small community for one day. This food wasn’t reserves for many days to come. This food was to survive one day. This food was their life. You may remember the poor widow from the Temple in Jerusalem who put two little coins into the treasury. From the perspective of the rich it was nothing. From her perspective it was life. Jesus said of her: ‘She gave all she had to live on.’ She gave more than money. She entrusted to God her life, her future.
When in today’s Gospel Jesus asked his disciples: ‘Bring them (bread and fish) here to me.’ He asked them to do what that poor widow did in the Temple: to give their life for others. And they did. The disciples put their very life at the disposal of others. Before the five loaves and two fish were multiplied a miracle happened in the hearts and minds of the disciples. Jesus performed ‘metanoia’ – conversion of their hearts and minds.
My Dear fellow Believers. The church is not a MasterChef competition. The church is the time and miracle performed by Jesus so that our hearts and minds could be transformed like the hearts and minds of the disciples in the Gospel did. Jesus is working very hard on us to transform us from ‘hoarders’ into givers. It is not just limited to what we have but it is all about giving away who we are. When we embrace the live of giving away our life we discover profound peace and joy. Is it easy? It is not. That’s why we come to church, to Mass so often because we know that it takes a long time to have our minds and hearts transformed in such a way. That’s why we keep receiving Jesus in Holy Communion because Holy Communion is all about Jesus giving himself away to us. Receiving him so many times we gradually mature to become whom we receive.