Nourishing and resourcing seem to be the themes of this month. When I was planning ahead, I chose the theme of Blessings of God – but actually nourishing and resourcing are actually about blessing. We need these to help us on our journey, or just to get through the day.
As I write, the heat is (for me) almost overwhelming. I’m one of those who often gets migraines in this kind of weather, and I just want to hide somewhere shady and cool. Luckily in England, 30 degrees plus doesn’t last for long. But with the environmental changes we all face, many are suggesting that these temperatures will become normal, and we will all have to adapt to cope.
But I have absolute faith that God will give us the tools we need to adapt, if we have the courage to step out and use them, no matter how unlikely they may at first appear.
Which brings me to this Sunday’s gospel – and echoes last Sunday too.
I can only imagine the scene on the hillside in Palestine. Jesus has drawn his disciples aside for a while to rest, to eat, and so he can teach them. They have been so busy that they haven’t even had time to eat! Many of us can identify with that nowadays. The lunch hour is definitely a thing of the past for many people. Life can feel relentless.
And Jesus says, Stop. Rest. Be nourished yourself, so you can then help others.
But then the crowds gather again. Not just a few – but five thousand of them! And Jesus asks his disciples, Where shall we find bread for them to eat? It’s as if he wants to see how they will respond.
The unlikely available resource is the boy with five loaves and two fish. What good is that? Not even worth bothering with!
But with Jesus, even the most unlikely resource becomes powerful. That boy’s lunch became nourishment and blessing for thousands. How it happened, God knows. In one sense, it does not matter. Did it literally become enough, in Christ’s hands, to feed everyone? Did this in fact inspire everyone to share? I’m not going to get hung up on that detail.
For me the miracle here is that Jesus can take something impossibly small and use it to bless and nourish thousands of people. Part of the beauty of this story is that Jesus uses the small and unimportant, bringing it to the very centre. And the compassion he shows gives me hope. Jesus is not just interested in telling people how to be better, and be more religious, and teaching theology. He looks after the body as well as the soul. Blessing is physical and tangible, as much as it is in the mind or heart. And the nourishment Jesus offers is for the body, as well as for the soul.
And so I wonder, what has God given me that will nourish and bless me, spiritually and physically, for today, and for the journey onwards? Above all I pray that I will not overlook the tiny things, for in them sometimes the greatest blessing of all can be found.