Sunday sermon on Matthew 14:14-22
It was getting late and the crowd, having spent the whole day listening to Christ’s preaching, was not leaving. The disciples began to worry for the people, the day was long, it was hot, there were women and children, and they did not have anything to eat.
They asked Christ to dismiss the crowd, so that they could go into the neighboring villages and buy some food. Of course disciples did not yet fully understand Who Jesus was, even after witnessing many miracles He performed. They had no idea that He could feed so many people also.
The disciples asked to send the people away. They did not say, “Let us go to look for the food for everybody.” They said, “Let them go to find some food.” And we can understand them, there was a lot of people, there was no way to feed them all.
Sometimes we fall into the same trap. The last commandment Christ left us with was, “Go, baptize the nations and teach them” (Matthew 28:19-20). Meaning, go and bring the Gospel of Christ to the people, teach them what Christ did for our salvation, and show them what life in Christ can be.
Very often we are hesitant to fulfill this commandment because there are a lot of people around, we can’t possibly reach out to all of them. Maybe we are like the disciples and think, “Let them look for Christ on their own, who am I to show them?” Yes, people should be looking for the Truth, for the Faith, for Christ on their own, but this gift of faith that we have is not given to us to preserve, but to share.
Christ’s answer to the request of His disciples to dismiss the people, shocked them, “You give them something to eat, you bring them food.” Was He really expecting the 12 homeless and jobless men to feed the whole crowd? Apparently He did!
Their response was one of dismay, “We don’t have enough, we have like 5 breads and 2 fishes. We don’t even have enough to feed ourselves!” They were stating the obvious, there was no way that they, on their own, could feed the crowd. Was Christ expecting them to run to the villages to buy food? But they didn’t have money. Was He expecting them to get into the lake and catch some fish? But that would take too long. What was He expecting them to do on their own?
The fact of our life is that on our own we can’t achieve much. On our own, the most we can do is be decent human beings – not greedy, more or less caring and respecting of someone besides ourselves, not cheating on our spouse in thought, word or action. Nothing spectacular, decent enough, but not good enough for salvation in the eternal life.
Just like the disciples, sometimes we are yet to realize that there is one thing needed in our decent lives – our Lord Jesus Christ. The disciples rightfully recognized that they had no way of feeding the whole crowd. The best they could do, without the help of Christ, was to let people look for food.
They had no way of following the command to feed the people. And we have no way of following the command that we have – to baptize and teach. Jesus was the only one who could help them feed the crowd, and only after they admitted that they can’t do it, did He feed the people through His disciples.
It was not the disciples who came up with the food, Christ did that, but it was the disciples who gave the food to the crowd. The disciples became the instruments, the ministers through whom Christ performed His miracle. On their own they could do nothing, with Him, they were able to feed more than five thousand people.
On our own, we can’t possibly fulfill Christ’s last commandment, that’s assuming that we want to in the first place. On our own, the best that we can do is believe a little bit that Christ is real and that following Him might do something to us. But sharing our faith, evangelizing, becoming God’s messengers here on earth, that is too much for us to handle.
If we realize this much, then we are in the right place. Christ never intended us to do it on our own. He promised to be with us always, even to the end of age (Matthew 28:20) and God the Father sent to us, through Christ, another Helper (John 14:16-17) – the Holy Spirit.
Christ did not abandon us to do His work, He gave us that last commandment because He knows that we can do it and He promised to help us. “You give them something to eat. Go baptize and teach.”
Lord, we want to, but we don’t have enough courage. Lord, we want to, but we don’t know how. Lord, we want to, teach us and work through us.
Unless otherwise specified, the articles here are posted by Father Aleksey, who has no sense of humor and is extremely straight forward.