Last week’s reflection ended with the observation that all who have been called (at Baptism, to live as a member of the Church in a particular manner) need to become involved in the overall ministry to the world in which we live. It is very easy for us, at times, to be ‘overcome’ at what appears to be the sheer enormity and urgency of the task. The result is that the temptation is to ‘withdraw’ and excuse ourselves with the words: “what difference can I possibly make – there is very little I am able to offer?”

We need to read and reflect on three points from THIS WEEK’S GOSPEL EXTRACT [JOHN 6: 1 – 15].

1 “There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?”

2 “Jesus took the loaves … gave them out … the same with the fish … as much as was wanted.”

3 “… nothing gets wasted … filled twelve hampers.”

The resources were minimal and were offered by a small boy! What this lad had (dismissed as totally inadequate by Andrew!) was handed over to Jesus who became the primary source of the result. Then, it is imperative we recognise that the miracle was NOT in the fact that the five loaves and two fish suddenly became greater in quantity. Rather, the original contribution proved to be sufficient in the distribution. Nothing, no mater how little and if freely handed over to the Lord, will ever be wasted.

In fact, the results, what is achieved, will produce (under Christ) remarkable results.

Forget about your perceived ineptitudes. Stop bemoaning the situation. Take your jacket off. Get to work. After all, we are supposed to be SERVANTS of the Lord, and servants should do what they are told!

Look at THE OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [2 KINGS 4: 42 – 44]. Elisha’s servant questioned the prophet’s instruction. “How can I serve this to a hundred men?” But Elisha INSISTED!“The Lord says this … he served them … and had some over.” This ‘some over’ has direct connections with the twelve baskets(one for each of the disciples) of the Gospel reading. When Elisha’s servant did what he was told, and when the disciples followed Jesus’ instruction, there was some over. WHEN WE START THE GIVING OF OUR APPARENTLY INSIGNIFICANT GIFTS, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMETHING OVER.

This surplus is not to be hoarded for personal gratification, wonder, and honour. It is there to be used – over and over again. Once we start, we will feel the need (indeed, have the conviction!) to continue. The secret, of course, is to ensure that our giving is always a giving to the Lord who will ‘do’ the impossible. TODAY’S PSALM [144 or 145] provides basic information in this regard.

“Your friends shall repeat their blessings.” It is not only a matter of recounting over and over how the Lord has blessed us personally. There must always be the added dimension of repeating in the sense ofreproducing. Indeed, it is in the reproduction that we are able to “declare your might, O God,” and never forget that “the eyes of all … look to” the Lord who repeatedly responds through our outreach. As I have emphasised so often in the past – disciples are never spectators, they are always participants.

PARTICIPANTS!“There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, through all and within all.”{NEW TESTAMENT READING [EPHESIANS 4: 1 – 6]} This is what we all are called to participate in – in what we all should be participating. In a special way our participation must have the character of “(bearing) with one another …. charitably … selflessness, gentleness and patience.”

It is, as Saint Paul reminds us in the reading from Ephesians, in this way that we begin to and grow in “(leading) a life worthy of your vocation.”{Remember that the word vocation is synonymous with the word calling.}

Please, also, recall the earlier emphasis on the word SERVANTS! We should, therefore, make a careful note of Paul’s opening words to us this week: “I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you …” Paul sees himself as a prisoner (servant) in the service of the Lord and the Gospel.

In today’s Gospel Jesus asked the question as a test. So very often we ourselves are tested by the Lord … because he knows what he is able to do with the little we have to offerIF ONLY WE OFFER IT?!