Thursday, April 27, 2017

With the Help of the Lord

By Colleen O’Sullivan

So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ. (Acts 5:41-42)

One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. (John 6:8-10a, 11-13)

One thing I ask of the Lord
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord
and contemplate his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

I confess to giving myself breaks from the news every few days. The human misery and need that come into my bedroom or my family room become overwhelming at times. Lucky me, I get to turn it off and tune it out. But what about the people who lived in all the Syrian towns and villages reduced to rubble? What about all the refugees of war, seeking new homes somewhere, anywhere a door opens? When do they get a break? How awful it must feel to know that entire countries don’t want you, are hardened to your plight. What good will my contributions to relief organizations do? I can feed a few people but we’re talking in terms of more than 11 million people who’ve fled since 2011.

I know just how Philip and Andrew must have felt in the Gospel reading today. Five thousand people is a huge crowd to feed! Even in 2017, with fast food restaurants everywhere we turn, feeding a group that large would present quite a challenge. But Jesus doesn’t throw his hands up in despair. He asks the disciples to give him whatever they’ve got. In Jesus’ hands, it will be enough.

Maybe the clue here is “in Jesus’ hands.” Sometimes we have the best of intentions but try to go it all alone. We get frustrated at our inability to solve big problems or meet others’ needs by our own efforts. We forget to pray and ask for Jesus’ help. Try including the Lord. Give Jesus whatever we’ve got in the way of resources and ask him to multiply it. We’re in the Easter season. We’ve seen Jesus’ willingness to die out of love for us and God’s ability to bring life out of death. If that isn’t loving power, I don’t know what is. Why try to get through life on your own, when that Risen Lord will walk with you every step of the way if you invite him to?

Look at the first reading. Something has happened to Peter and the others. They aren’t the same people they were in the Gospels, afraid to admit they knew Jesus, misunderstanding everything Jesus taught them. They are walking in the power of Easter and Pentecost. They know the power of Jesus’ name and they are using it in their preaching and healing. The same men who couldn’t stand the thought of Jesus suffering are now rejoicing that they are suffering for Jesus’ name!

When you are praying today, take a few minutes to reflect with Jesus on times in your life when you’ve tried to accomplish something without the Lord’s counsel and help. What was the result? Reflect on times when you’ve been able to do something you weren’t sure you could do because you relied on the help of the Risen Lord.

No comments: