A woman arrives at the airport two hours before her fight. To help pass the time she purchases a paperback book and bag of cookies at a newsstand. She then settles into a seat awaiting her boarding time and becomes engrossed in reading her book. After a while she notices the man sitting one seat over beginning to open the bag of cookies on the seat between them. She is surprised that a stranger would help himself to the cookies, and isn't sure what to do; but she deliberately reaches over and grabs a cookie from the open bag and eats it.
The man says nothing, but soon reaches over and helps himself to a second cookie. She sits there for a moment; then with a determined look, she also grabs a second cookie. And so it goes – alternating hands into the cookie bag! Soon there is but one cookie left. The man reaches for it, breaks it in half, leaves one half in the bag and eats the other half. The woman is now thoroughly upset at his behavior and is about to tell him so, but just then her flight number is announced so she quickly puts her book away and departs to board her plane. Still somewhat unnerved, she settles into her assigned seat and reaches into her purse to continue reading the book she bought. And nestled right there in her purse she notices... her unopened bag of cookies!
Something similar happens in today's Gospel. This Gospel allows us to look into Jesus' heart to measure what makes him tick. Look at Jesus! Look at what he's letting us see. The people wanted to make him 'king.' He isn't the least bit interested in being a king – that matters nothing to him. So what does matter to him? We do! Our needs do! Jesus sees the huge, hungry crowd. How does he react? Does he react uselessly? “Gosh, that's real shame – all those hungry people and no food!” No! Does he react selfishly? “Sure glad I've got some bread and fish to eat.” No! Does he react critically? “If these people had any common sense, they wouldn't have come all this way without food.” No! That's not the way Jesus reacts to the situation!
Instead, Jesus reacts directly and compassionately: “These people are hungry. We have to feed them.” And he provides them all with food so abundantly that there are leftovers for a later meal. This single event tells us all we really need to know about Jesus and about the Wonderful God who sent him to us. It tells us of God's great love and concern. It tells us that God responds generously and abundantly to our deepest needs. There are no limits. Jesus doesn't micro-manage the situation as others might. He doesn't count precisely how many loaves, how many fish to give each of the many clusters of people sitting on these grassy slopes. He simply provides everyone with the nourishment they need.
Now if this is true, and it is, then our fears and anxieties about God are unfounded. If we believe the Gospel, if we are honest followers of Jesus, it is a foolish waste of time and energy to worry that our all-merciful God may not forgive us, may abandon us, may expect the impossible of us, may not respond to our real needs. In short, it's time we stop shrinking God down to our own size. It's time to let God be God. It's time to trust that God is big enough to handle all things, even our smallness of heart. AMEN!