There is in us, the Human Race, a common thread. Every one of us feels a need to belong, to be part of something beyond ourselves! Those feelings play out in different ways around the world among different races, religions and cultures.
The scripture for this week is, among others, the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 people who have come to hear him speak. When the speaking is over, they seem to keep hanging around. One of Jesus’ disciples recognizes that something needs to be done about food for all these people. Having to feed 5,000 people when you don’t have more than a little bread and some fish spells out to be somewhat of a crisis.
The conversation leads to Jesus telling his followers to feed them. They answer — “We don’t have enough!” to which Jesus pretty much says, “Share what you have!” — and because Jesus uses the power of God’s love for all people, what they have turns out to be enough.
What happened? For those of us of the Christian faith it is simple — somehow the human and the divine came together and what seems for some to be impossible suddenly became possible. It was a divine CRISIS INTERVENTION. One day not long ago I saw a young man give a ten minute speech on TV. He started off by saying, “I hate religion, but I love Jesus.” He continued by sharing his feeling about hypocrisy in the religious world and especially aiming at the Christian community. A young voice questioning our perception of the divine reality.
Have we become a society of endangered souls beyond redemption? A society hoping and wishing for solutions and cures, but not willing or able to honestly face the facts which create these flaws in the life of our nation and our world? Are we in need of a transformation of souls — personally, nationally and internationally; a transformation that will take God’s love beyond ourselves to our brothers and sisters across the street and across the world?
I am reminded of a man, Charles, who I heard about. He was wealthy and was known for his wealth. He made a decision to share what he had. He bought a loft in a building in the more shady part of New York City. The word spread that men who had no other place to sleep could come to the loft — that there was food there and some clothes if needed — but bring no drugs or alcohol. That loft that could hold almost one hundred filled up night after night. One day someone got suspicious and notified the police who one evening raided the loft. They found one man who had brought stuff he should not have brought, and Charles was arrested. At the police station he gave his name — and the officers were pondering when they recognized him. “Why are you doing this?” All were surprised that he would spend his time and money on the homeless. His answer was simple, “I need to let them know that they are loved!” Eventually he was not charged with anything.
This one man insisted on being in touch with the divine reality of God’s love. That is what gave meaning to all that he had. Divine reality for him was in his reaching out to those in need. For him faith was not about what he could have for himself; it was about sharing what he had received from God.
If our faith is all about me/us and what we can do for ourselves, then maybe we have not gone far enough in our pursuit of the divine reality. Jesus said to his disciples, “You feed them!” They answered, “We don’t have enough!” to which Jesus pretty much said, “Share what you have” — and they did.
Maybe the world is waiting and hoping that it will happen again. Why not!
Rev. Oluf Kongshaug is a parish associate at First Presbyterian Church in Delaware.