GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO EAT YOURSELVES
The Gospel-writer Matthew doesn’t concern himself with the details of the story. He’s only interested in framing the scene presenting Jesus in the midst of the «people» in an attitude of «compassion». He does this also on other occasions. This compassion is the origin of all his actions.
Jesus doesn’t turn his back on those people, closing himself in his religious business and indifferent to the pain of that people. «He sees a large crowd; and he takes pity on them and heals their sick». His experience of God makes him go about relieving suffering and satisfying the hunger of those poor people. Thus must the Church do that wants to make Jesus present in today’s world.
Time passes and Jesus keeps busy healing. The disciples interrupt him with a suggestion: «This is a lonely place, and time has slipped by, so send away the people, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food». They haven’t learned anything from Jesus. They ignore the hungry and abandon them to their luck: let them «buy food». What about those who can’t buy?
Jesus answers them with a sharp order, that we satisfied Christians of rich countries don’t want to hear: «Give them something to eat yourselves». Instead of «buying», Jesus proposes «giving something to eat». It can’t be said more clearly. He goes about crying to the Father: «Give us today our daily bread». God wants all God’s sons and daughters to have bread, even those who can’t buy it.
The disciples remain skeptical. Among the people they only find five loaves and two fish. For Jesus it’s enough: if we share what little we have, we can satisfy the hunger of all; including «having left over» twelve baskets of bread. This is his alternative: a more human society, capable of sharing its bread with the hungry, will have enough resources for all.
In a world where millions of people die of hunger, we Christians can only be ashamed. Europe doesn’t have a Christian soul and «sends away» like delinquents those who come seeking bread. And through it all, who are the people in the Church that walk in the direction marked out by Jesus? Disgracefully most of us live deaf to his call, distracted by our interests, discussions, doctrines and celebrations. Why do we call ourselves followers of Jesus?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf