Invocation for Loaves and Fishes

This prayer was for the opening breakfast for the Loaves and Fishes “One Day Without Hunger” event.

The story about Jesus multiplying loaves and fishes, from which this wonderful organization takes its name, is present in all four of the Gospel narratives that we have. The early church obviously talked about that event quite a bit, and for them it was one of the most important events in the whole Jesus story. I think it’s an important story on many theological levels, but at its most basic, it tells us of Jesus’ concern for the people who followed him.

These people had been amazed at his mighty deeds and convincing words and couldn’t tear themselves away even to eat something. So they all arrived in one place hungry, and without anyplace to go find something to eat. All they can scrounge up is five loaves and two fish which is hardly anything for so many people. But in Jesus’ hands it is enough, and the line that leapt out at me as I was reflecting on this story the other day was this: “They all ate and were satisfied.”

That’s what this day is about. One day without hunger. One day without hunger in one small place on the earth seems like hardly anything in the face of such great hunger for so many people. But maybe in the hands of God, it is enough. Enough to raise awareness, enough to increase donations, enough to provide a resource for people who had no idea they could receive it. In the hands of God, may this day be a great blessing to so many and accomplish the needs that seem so great. This day, may all eat and be satisfied.

And so we pray, loving God, God who knows the needs of your people, be with us on this day and bless this community. May our taking part in the events of this day make us ever more aware of the needs of those who hunger. Bless, dear God, this time together and this meal. Bless those who have prepared it and provided for it, and bless all of us who partake of it. May we all eat and be satisfied, this day and every day. Amen.

Thursday of the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Today's readings

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Sometimes, it seems, we think that God is too big to deal with our paltry little problems.  In thinking that way, though, we make God out to be quite a bit smaller than he really is.  We want to define God, just like Peter did.  We want him to be our Messiah, but the Messiah of our own desires.  Peter couldn’t conceive of a Messiah who would have to suffer.  We can’t conceive of a Messiah who wouldn’t do everything we ever asked him to, who wouldn’t make our life deliriously happy, who wouldn’t make all our problems go away.  Or else we think our Messiah is too busy to even be concerned with our lives.  Either way, we are selling our Messiah way short.

Jesus says our Messiah “must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.”  He will walk through the pain with us, and sometimes that pain will go away, sometimes it won’t, but the pain will never be ignored.  Our God is not too big to note our suffering, and is never too big to walk through it with us.  But he’s not small enough to be our genie in a bottle, waving the magic wand to make us do what he wants.

The Lord hears the cry of the poor, the Psalmist tells us today: “When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him.”  Our Messiah is a God who hears our cry, and knows our suffering.  We are never alone in our need.