Der Vasken's Sermon on July 21, 2019

Jul 23, 2019

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Peaceful, tranquil, quiet and serene.  These are the feelings that came to mind as I readied today's message about this very well-known Bible passage.  Having recently returned from a parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land, our group of travelers entered the grounds of this historic site that houses the very spot where Jesus Christ performed the miracle spoken about in today's Bible passage.  This is one of Jesus' most well-known miracles.  It is one we hear each year on this Sunday. So entering the site, where this miracle took place, brought out an emotional response from all eighteen of us as we entered the church and saw the spot where Jesus took the bread and fish, blessed them, broke them and gave them to the crowds who gathered.  The Holy Land is truly that.  It holds the holiest places of the Christian faith found anywhere in the world.

This morning's Bible reading comes from the Gospel of St. Matthew.  There are many miracles attributed to Jesus Christ throughout the four Gospels and each one stands alone yet each one is connected to the others.  The people in Biblical days were intrigued by what Jesus said but that wasn't enough for them.  They wanted proof.  They asked Him time after time for signs to prove He was truly the Son of God.  And so on occasion, He offered the crowds the proof that they sought. 

Today, His miracles continue to capture the attention of people.  They continue to serve as the proof many people are looking for, and they, also, continue to benefit us when we apply their message to our lives.  Today's miracle is more than an event in the ministry of Christ and His disciples.  Miracles show us the heart and the values and the compassion of God.

Let's take a minute to look at this story.  Jesus had spent the day with the largest crowd of people ever to gather around Him.  They came to hear Him and see Him and maybe even have the chance to touch Him.  He "had compassion on them and healed their sick," it says. When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, "Lord, this is a remote place and the day is now over; the sun is setting.  Send the crowds away to go into the nearby villages and buy food for themselves." 

When Jesus heard His disciples suggest that He send the people away to find food for themselves, His response back to them was very clear:

  • "No one should go away hungry;
  • They need not go away to some other place to find the food they need;
  • You do something to fulfill their hunger;
  • You nourish their needs," He said.
But the disciples didn't understand Him and they replied back that they "have only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish."  And so Jesus said to them, "Bring to me what you have."  And the disciples went and collected whatever food they could find and they brought it to Him and said, "Here is all we have--5 small loaves of bread and 2 small fish. It isn't possible to feed this large crowd with only this handful of food," they told Him. But Jesus taught His disciples a very important lesson that day.  He taught them that, with God's blessing, 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish were enough to fulfill the needs of everyone, and there were even many baskets left over.  And that's the miracle written about in today's Bible lesson.

So in hearing this very important message of the Bible, ask yourself: What gifts do you have to give to God? Because as we hand over our gifts to Him, He blesses them. And as we give Him our gifts, He multiples them and gives them back to us increased in ways we never would have imagined possible.  This is the message of today's miracle.

"We have only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish," they answered.  "Bring to me what you have," He said, and a great miracle happened.  May we all find a way to turn over our gifts and talents to God so He may bless them as He did in today's Bible story.  And may we all use those gifts to make a difference in the life of other people today and every day because we are all in this together. 

Amen.