“HOW MANY LOAVES DO I HAVE?” (Mk 6:34-44): 08 January 2008 (Tuesday)

“HOW MANY LOAVES DO I HAVE?” (Mk 6:34-44):  08 January 2008 (Tuesday)


“An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore’s award-winning documentary on climate change, ranks high in my list of  scariest movies of all time.  In ways both lucid and graphic, the documentary shows us the magnitude of the problem, a problem caused by all the abuses committed against the planet.  Watching the film, some of us may actually feel helpless and resigned to our fate, whatever that will be.

Climate change is but one of the great problems that we face today.  Terrorism is another.  Who would have thought that people would actually resort to suicide bombing in warfare?  It has changed all the rules of the game, and we’re at a loss about how we can deal with something like this.

We also need not look far.  If we examine our own lives–our compulsive behaviors, bad habits, and secret addictions–and recall all those broken New Year’s resolutions, we will also realize that in our own personal lives, we’re also up against something much bigger than us.  Again, we’re tempted to simply give up.

In the gospel reading, the problem that the Lord and the disciples face is relatively simple by today’s standards.  But it is certainly a great cause for concern to them at the time.  The Lord may have spoken too long, and it is now too late to disperse the crowd and send them home.  The problem is, the crowd is hungry and they have nothing to feed them.

When the Lord instructs the disciples to feed the crowd, the disciples ask incredulously, “Are we to buy 200 days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?”

But the Lord calmly responds by asking them, “How many loaves do you have?”

We know the rest of the story:  The disciples are able to gather five loaves and two fish–or so they think.  The Lord blesses and multiplies those very five loaves and two fish, and feeds the entire crowd, with lots of left-overs.

Today as I recall all the troubles and problems in the world and in my own personal life, that’s probably the very question that I need to ask myself:  “How many loaves do I have?”  If I take my five loaves and two fish–and use them and share them with others–the Lord will take care of the rest.


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