- Fr. John Jennings
Jesus and the Wonder of the Kingdom
The corona virus has impacted us in many ways – the need to isolate, to physically distance, to wear a mask at times, the importance of washing our hands frequently, the anxiety of not knowing when it will end, to name only a few. It is not easy for us, but we are in this together.
Perhaps though it is also important for us to consider how the virus may have lasting benefits for us as a society. One of the benefits may be that we are discovering how much our communities and relationships mean for us and the need we all have to value and pay attention to each other. All those demands are not just to protect ourselves. They are to protect others. The separations of our current life and the kindness we express for others, these are all small recognitions of how much we mean to each other. Indeed, we are in this together.
This recognition that others mean a lot to us may well enrich us after the threat of the virus has eased. The new normal may be more caring, compassionate and close communities. We may come out of it realizing we are still together to the benefit all. Throughout this time, we may well be living a better image of God’s reign among us – reign of love and peace, compassion and care among all. What a miracle, what a wonder for humanity!
Looking at the stories of Jesus in the gospels, did you ever notice how often Jesus is presented speaking to crowds? Sometimes they are hostile (Pharisees), sometimes, friendly (disciples), often they are in need, searching for something. The gospel story this Sunday (Matt.14:13-21) is a story of Jesus’ encounter with a crowd in need... and his response.
As the story unfolds, we see that as so often happened, Jesus sought to find a quiet place, but a large crowd of people followed him. As always, he had compassion for their needs and cured many. When evening came, his disciples advised him to send the crowd to the surrounding towns for food. Jesus responded to this advice by saying: “You give them something to eat.” This confused his friends and they exclaimed that they had nothing to give.
What did Jesus do? In a wonder-filled way Jesus showed them how to respond to this need. He gathered the crowd and proceeded to bless the food that was available and then had his disciples distribute it among the people. As it turned out, there was more than enough to feed all and with some left over. What is the miracle here? Perhaps there are various ways to identify the wonder in the story.
Of course, there is the way that might first come to mind. Jesus performed a “miraculous” act of producing food where there had been none. It was a truly divine act of creation from nothing, a suspension of the laws of nature.
Perhaps, however, what took place was an even greater wonder or miracle and one which did not suspend the laws of nature. Could it be that the true miracle was one of God touching the hearts and hands of the crowd? As Jesus pursued his mission and message of the Kingdom of God, the people were so moved that they began to share food with one another so that all were fed. There was in fact more than enough to feed everyone. Such a vision of love, care and sharing is a taste of God’s reign.
In the midst of the virus, perhaps we can find reign of God among us. Transformed, we become the humanity God intends us to be. In such a miracle, God can touch the hearts and hands of all our world. The reign of God comes alive. What a kingdom! What a miracle! What a wonder!
Question ~ What can I do to bring God’s Kingdom into my own place in the world?