Have you read the book The Day the World Came to Town? It’s the true story of Gander, Newfoundland, a small town of about 10,000 residents that found itself home to nearly 7,000 stranded passengers from all over the world when airspace over the United States shut down on September 11, 2001. Written by Jim Defede, it is a story of humanity at its finest—of hospitality and a no questions asked kind of goodwill; of compassion amid deep heartache. There was no toilet paper hoarding (at least none written about in the book) and, instead, people came from miles away to offer meals, clothes, blankets, toys, and space in their homes to the stranded passengers. It was the kind of sharing we were all taught in kindergarten. There was enough!
Our Gospel story from Luke is a familiar one—perhaps because it is the only miracle of Jesus that appears (albeit slightly differently) in all four Gospels. Jesus and the Disciples are faced with a hungry and large crowd and only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. I love the response Jesus gives to the Disciples when they try to get him to send everyone away: “Feed them yourselves!” Sure, he would help get the party started, but THEY would bring it to the crowd. There were no special tickets or qualifications—this was God’s table after all and ALL were welcome. There was enough!
Truly, God has given us enough, but we have really messed up the supply chain.
The miracle was not only the multiplication of loaves and fishes, but the hearts broken open to share with one another: the hearts of the Disciples, the crowd, the people of Gander, Newfoundland, and each of us when we break off a piece of God’s bounty and offer it to another. A few extra dollars, the bigger piece of cake, half of the basil harvest from our garden, an hour of our time—how might we share with those around us? What simple miracle can we perform today?
Allison Loecke lives in Chicago with a revolving door of foster cats. She is a self-described super aunt, party planner, aspiring tap dancer, and proud member of All Saints’ Episcopal Church. She is regional director with Ignatian Spirituality Project, which offers spiritual accompaniment to people in recovery from addiction and homelessness.