Rom 8:35, 37-39
Familiar Fish and New Fishing Rods
A few years ago I went out with the director of our chaplaincy department and another chaplain to go fishing. Both of them were seasoned fisher people and I had not fished in years. I had a wonderful new fishing rod, which was much more complex than the cane pole I used as a child.
I was fortunate to be with good and patient teachers, who didn’t seem to mind when I interrupted them to find out once again, how do I cast with this pole? After about three hours of fishing, we had caught several fish. I had caught the largest bass that afternoon and I was thrilled.
The Spiritual Care department that I was once part of had periodic gatherings. My boss, an excellent fisherman and hunter usually provided all of the meat for the gatherings. The rest of us would fill out the meal with side dishes, salads, drinks, and of course dessert. I can’t tell you how excited I was at my last gathering with my colleagues (before moving to the southwest) to be part of the fish providers. Note that I did not say I caught a lot of fish, but rather I caught the biggest fish that day.
My boss Chuck did the hard work of cleaning the fish and grilling them, yet I found myself basking in a glow that came from my connectedness to what I was providing for the meal.
On Sunday August 3rd we are invited in the reading from Isaiah to come with our hunger and thirst and be satisfied. In the gospel reading Jesus draws on what is provided to feed the needs of the large crowd gathered. In both the first reading and the gospel we are assured that all would be or were satisfied. What we don’t know is how God pulled it off!
Were the fish and bread that Jesus had at the beginning of the feeding the only food that was shared? What kind of hungers did the crowd bring to that time with Jesus and his disciples? Did the crowd of five thousand plus really have their hungers met by five fish and two loafs of bread? Or perhaps did Jesus’ act of generosity and trust draw from the people in the crowd a generosity that was waiting to be tapped by His modeling?
Did the people in the crowd begin to share the side dishes that they had tucked into a bag when they decided to journey where Jesus was? Were there others in the crowd who also had a fish or loaf of bread to share?
Perhaps like our chaplaincy gatherings the act of knowing and remembering how to share created a great abundance of food for all. The gospel invites us to think about what we have to bring to the hungers and thirsts of those with whom we break bread and share life…perhaps in order to feed those hungers we will need to learn how to use a new fishing rod to meet the needs both familiar and not.