Drinking Well


Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, "Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?"   He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do.  Philip answered, "Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each."  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said, "There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?" 
     Jesus said to them, "Make the people sit down." There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down.  Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. 
    When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, "Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted."  So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves.  (John 6:5-13)
Trying to be God is exhausting.  Often enough I am faced with a problem that is totally beyond my power to solve.  Then I have a range of unpleasant feelings.  I feel helpless and frustrated and inadequate and sometimes desperate.  I can sympathize with Philip in the story of the loaves and the fishes.  Waves of hungry people were approaching and he and his hard-up companions were expected to feed them.  What I find comforting in the story is that the Lord was with them and knew exactly what he would do.  They did not have to be God.  They had to trust in the Lord.  They had to recognize then what they could do, and do it.  The Lord worked the miracle.

Going for gold

The primary school in Moyross had a big problem last year.  The Department of Education withdrew funding for a teacher; the two infant classes would have to be put together and one teacher would have thirty-two children to teach.  Moyross is economically deprived, and the parish could not afford to pay a teacher’s salary.  The parish priest, Tony O’Riordan, knew he could work no miracle but he thought of something he could do.  He appealed to all the parishes in Ireland to sell any gold objects they had and were not using, and to give the money to pay the teacher in Moyross.  His unusual appeal caught the attention of the national media.  Two parishioners in Dalkey were moved by the appeal and urged their parish pastoral council to take it to heart.  The council decided to hold a special collection and invited Tony and the school principal, Tiernan O’Neill, to address their Sunday congregation.  Seven members of the council travelled to Moyross and were deeply impressed by all that they saw in the school.  One of those who came was Pat Keogh, manager of Leopardstown Racecourse.  He discovered that many of the children had a great love of horses and he invited them to Leopardstown family day.  Tony and Tiernan accompanied the children on the outing; they saw the fine horses and met the owners and trainers and jockeys.

I think he will win

One of the children from sixth class got into conversation with a prominent trainer.  He had many questions to ask; ‘Do you own this place?  Do you own all these horses?’  The trainer answered his questions and was touched by his enthusiasm.  He said, ‘I have a horse in one of the next races and I think he will win.  I will put on a bet for you.’  He put on a bet of a hundred euro; the horse won at four-to-one, and he gave the E500 to the boy.  Immediately the boy said, ‘I will divide it with the other children who have come on the trip.’  And he did.

In the middle of the story of the loaves and fishes we are told, ‘There is a small boy here.’  The small boy’s willingness to share the five loaves made it possible for Jesus to multiply them to feed everyone.  The willingness of the small boy from Moyross to share his winnings with his companions indicates the kind of generosity that will allow Jesus to work the miracle in our time that will feed the world and have food leftover.  The same generosity will make it possible for schools to have enough teachers to give all the children the attention that they need.  Moyross kept its teacher for this year, and trusts that the miracle will be repeated.

Prayer: Psalm 112

Praise the Lord!
   Happy are those who fear the Lord,
   who greatly delight in his commandments. 
They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright;
   they are gracious, merciful, and righteous. 
It is well with those who deal generously and lend,
   who conduct their affairs with justice. 
For the righteous will never be moved;
   they will be remembered for ever. 
They are not afraid of evil tidings;
   their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. 
Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid;
   in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. 
They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor;
   their righteousness endures forever.

Brendan Clifford


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