Elisha was confronted with two realities: a hungry crowd and a man with only 20 barley loaves. Elisha did not panic.
Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat. For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’” And when they had eaten, there was some left over, as the Lord had said.
God, in the person of Jesus Christ, repeats this miracle in the Gospel. It is the only miracle, other than the resurrection, that is recounted by all four evangelists. Do you think that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John understood something that bears closer reflection on our part?
How often do we panic, not knowing how we will handle a certain critical situation? How often do we turn that panic into Faith with the words, “Jesus, I trust in you?”
We are not alone. St. Paul continues from last week his discourse on unity with multiple phrases like, one body and one Spirit… one hope… one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all. The crowds that Elisha and Jesus each faced were also unified in one aspect: they were hungry. Notice that in both cases the miracle is not initiated by any request, complaint or prayer. On the contrary, they were initiated by a God who recognizes and answers our needs; a God who feeds us with what we need, not necessarily what we want.
It’s a good exercise to sit quietly and contemplate what we think we need and what we think we want in the light of God’s divine desires for all of us. When we understand this difference we can better understand the words of Paul: I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received… bearing with one another through love.