My mother is ninety three and her mind has receded into the murkiness of dementia. There are days when she does not know us, cannot dress herself nor carry on a conversation. Yet, when we open up a box of her favorite chocolate candy, she opens her hand, palm up and says, “I’ll have some.” This is one touch point with reality my mother has managed to maintain.
I imagine that the hungry crowd in today’s Gospel probably held out their hands to the disciples as they distributed the blessed bread and fish and said, “I’ll have some of that.” The miracle in today’s Gospel is essentially a sign of God’s kingdom- where there is never scarcity nor lack of power to respond to others but always the superabundance of God’s nourishing and satisfying presence.
Jesus’ response to the crowds needs was an in-breaking of God’s kingdom, embodied by the very person and presence of Jesus whom the crowd sought. If we are the presence of the risen Christ today, then we too are an in-breaking of God’s kingdom when we reach out in compassion to satisfy the needs of others.
At the same time, we hold out our hands and say, “I will have some of that.” We must be willing to receive the life that divine presence brings so that being filled, we are the presence of Christ for others.