Tony Campolo is a pastor, a professor of sociology, and speaker. He was invited to give a major address at a women’s conference. The women at the conference were being challenged to raise several thousand dollars for a mission project. At the point where they were ready to take up an offering for the mission project, Campolo was asked to come up and say a prayer for God’s blessing as they considered their individual responses to the goal. Campolo came to the microphone – and to everyone’s amazement – graciously said, “No.”
He went on, “You already have all the resources necessary to complete this mission project right here within this room. It would be inappropriate to ask for God’s blessing, when in fact, God has already blessed you with the abundance and the means to achieve this goal. The necessary gifts are in your hands. As soon as we take the offering and underwrite this mission project – we will THANK God for freeing us to be the generous, responsible, and accountable stewards that we are called to be as Christians and disciples.” The goal for their mission project was met.
Jesus said, “You feed them.”
Forty thousand children die of hunger every year. The average person blinks every thirteen seconds. That means every time you blink a child dies from hunger in our world. That would be comparable to an airplane carrying one hundred children crashing to earth every twenty minutes – every day – of every week – of every month. If seventy-two airplanes holding one hundred children were crashing every day, how hard would we be working to fix the problem?
Our lesson said, ‘Jesus had compassion on the people’ …but the disciples said, “Send them somewhere so they can find their own food.” Jesus responded, “No, you give them something to eat. You take care of their needs.”
And the disciples individually replied, “It’s been a long hard week, Jesus, I’ve been trying to meet my own obligations. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. You just don’t know how hard life can be sometimes. Every time I go to the mailbox, it’s filled with bills…car payment, house payment, my smartphone bill, 200+ channel satellite television bill, and medical bills. My doctor says I need to lose weight. My dentist tells me I need a lot of work done on my teeth. I’d like to help out, Jesus, but there’s not much in the basket – a couple of fives, a twenty – a few loaves and a couple of cold fish. That’s it, Lord. I’d like to help you, but what I have won’t make a difference.”
Jesus said, “Bring what you have to me.”
Jesus’ feeding the five thousand is not about everyone giving the same amount. He didn’t say, “Everyone ante up a couple of loaves and one fish so we can get this done.” It was someone from the crowd who gave what they had. Most, including the disciples, gave nothing. Jesus took what was given and used it to fill a big need. And we all celebrate together because God brings the abundance.
Because Jesus can do miracles with small amounts does not let us off the hook. We are only asked to give a small amount, and as disciples, we are asked to be part of the distribution.
There are hungry eyes looking to us for food. There are despairing eyes with disease and illness looking to us for affordable healthcare. There are homeless people looking to us for shelter from the rain and snow. We are not to say, “Send them away to fend for themselves.” Jesus says to us, “You give them something to eat.”
St. Paul said, “Don’t you know that Christ is within you?” It is the Christ within us who feeds the hungry.
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