It is a common statistic that in every parish only ten percent, or even less, of the congregation are actively serving in ministries. But it does not make this ten percent superior to the rest. I know many mothers who want to serve but their young, active children make it almost impossible to spare any time or focus. And for this ten percent, it is not always the same people all the time. People come and go. There are seasons too in our spiritual life.
What is more common is the hesitancy to serve. I don’t know enough. I am too busy. Church is not my thing. My faith is personal, I don’t share it. I am not good enough as a person. I commit a lot of sins. Maybe when I retire. This is not just the ninety percent but all of us. We have all been through these seasons as well. In our spiritual life, we have all been broken, fractured and fragmented. We have all been basket cases. Yet we are called to serve.
“But they answered, ‘All we have with us is five loaves and two fish.’ ‘Bring them here to me’ he said. He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing.” (Today’s Gospel)
The disciples surveyed the hillside. 5000, maybe more. Glancing into the basket, 5 loaves and 2 fish. God surveys the world in this pandemic. Many are suffering, hungry in many ways. He looks in his basket, who can he send? Our hesitancy to serve, perceived unworthiness and lack of conviction and courage makes us basket cases. In his basket, God is seemingly poor with only 2 fish – us. Poor because of our lack of conviction.
“Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come! Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and you will have good things to eat and rich food to enjoy.” (First Reading)
This pandemic has flattened the curve of status and wealth. It is telling us that the riches we desire of this earth will fail to satisfy. But it also tells us that the individual matter. Each enjoy equal importance. Our little actions count through simple acts of wearing a mask and social distancing. Imagine our world acting as one, each person just obliging by these simple acts for the sake of the other. We need to always look out for one another. Maybe there won’t be this pandemic today.
We keep learning the lessons of life. Different people come, different people go. Young age, old age. A journey through experiences and events of life. There will come a season in every one’s life to know that our life on earth is a shared life. A life of service brings fulfilment. A hunger is satisfied when we find this true purpose in life. Today is a day to contemplate if it is my season to be the fish in that basket?
We are all basket cases when it comes to our spiritual lives. God’s basket is seemingly poor. But this is who God is. In his infinite love he reaches out to us in our brokenness. He touches up our cracks with leaves of gold. Then put us into a life of service in a way we never imagined filling our life with meaning, purpose, and fulfilment.
In one blessing our brokenness yields riches twelve baskets full.
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time