Free Food
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 26, 2015
JN 6:1-15

I have to admit, if I need to go to Sam’s Club, I try to schedule my shopping for late morning. I want to get there after the little stainless steel tables with the electric skillets, or hot plates, or microwave ovens are out and operational…but BEFORE the “lunch crowd” arrives. Silly as it sounds, I enjoy moving from free sample to free sample as I make my way around the warehouse store. I appreciate this sales ploy masked as “free food.” I also like talking with the people who are there to describe and promote the product they are serving. What I have noticed, however, is that while most people take advantage of the variety of samples and few seem to “appreciate” what is given to them without cost.

Some people never break step, simply reaching over and grabbing a little morsel of food, totally ignoring the person who has prepared it. Others, manners aside, reach through those who do stand and listen to the sales pitch. Rarely is the invitation for a sample acknowledged with a simple “please” and “thank you.” Then there is the matter of the paper napkins, plastic forks, and small cups that are tossed carelessly on the floor after the sample has been gobbled down. Some shoppers have become so used to the sample tables that they don’t even glance over to see what is being offered. They walk past like they didn’t hear the server say: “Care to try our new pizza rolls?” Where free food is involved, common courtesy seems to fall by the wayside.

It makes one wonder how the enormous crowd that was fed with a few loaves and fishes behaved. Did they realize that a miracle was unfolding in their very midst? Did they acknowledge the hard work of the disciples who struggled to pass out the “free food” to so many hungry people? Were Jesus’s dinner guests respectful of one another? Was there pushing and shoving and shouting and grabbing? Did they take only what they needed…their fill…or did they hoard or waste? I wonder if they felt a deep sense of gratitude…or did they consider the meal as simply part of the program? Did they dine graciously or did they simply feed like a herd of cattle?

And what about The Lord? I wonder what was going through His mind as He watched. Certainly, Jesus was glad that this crowd was cared for and their needs met…but…did He take delight in watching them enjoy the “free food”?

And what about us? Does The Lord take delight in us when He offers His Body and Blood in the Eucharist? How do we act when invited to eat freely and without cost…The Bread of Life