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Saturday, August 2, 2014

THE EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST: ¨This crowd has come after Jesus looking for him- their quest is spiritual and physical-many are seeking healing. The others come to be with this holy man, to see him, to hear him...¨ Ricardo+

“There is a time for every purpose under heaven.”
John August Swanson
August 3, 2014
Last Sunday we brought food and shared it with one another at Saint James. Many of us were hungry, and we welcomed the nice brunch. We know how good it feels to eat tasty food, and we also know how good it can feel to share food. In doing so we were approximating an early Christian practice, where the Eucharist was always accompanied by a meal. This was the agapemeal that followers of Jesus shared, recalling his unconditional love for us.
Today Jesus and his disciples are sharing food with a multitude, feeding them in the early evening. They only have five loaves of bread and two fish, and there are five thousand men present, without counting women and children. Yet all are fed, and there are leftovers.
Our Gospels are drawn from the Revised Common Lectionary of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. Today’s presentation is quite annoying; because it fails to explain the events and circumstances in which the feeding of the five thousand takes place. John the Baptist has been beheaded on the orders of the Tetrarch of Galilee, Herod Antipas. After burying the body, his disciples come and tell Jesus the news. The three Synoptic Gospels all record that John’s baptism of Jesus in the Jordan is the moment in which the relationship of Jesus with God the Father is revealed to us, to John, and probably to Jesus himself. John is the man who opens for Jesus the door to his own mission on Earth. Jesus is deeply shaken-his erstwhile mentor and colleague is dead. He wants to be alone, to mourn, to pray, and to reflect on his own fate.
¨Loaves and Fishes¨
John August Swanson 
Today’s Gospel reading begins with Jesus’ withdrawal to a deserted place. He is looking for quiet time. When Jesus’ followers see that he has left by boat, they follow on foot. Poor Jesus, he cannot take a break. The crowd is waiting for him when he comes ashore. Think also how much they need him. And Jesus’ response is characteristic-“he had compassion for them, and cured their sick.” This crowd has come after Jesus looking for him- their quest is spiritual and physical-many are seeking healing. The others come to be with this holy man, to see him, to hear him. Has anyone thought about food and shelter for these folk? From the text it appears unlikely.
The hour is growing late. The disciples ask Jesus to dismiss the crowd, to send the people into the villages to buy food for themselves. Jesus has a better idea-he tells the disciples to feed the multitude with what they have on hand. Suppose you have five loaves of bread and two fish and someone tells you to feed ten thousand people. What would your reaction be? You can understand how disconcerted the disciples were. “How on earth are we going to pull this off?” they must have asked themselves.
What we have next is one of those episodes common in Jesus’ earthly ministry. Faith and prayer triumph over human limitation. What seems impossible given the resources at hand is made possible through prayer and the grace of Almighty God. The disciples have said, probably in a mix of amazement and despair: “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish” And Jesus has taken the loaves and the fish, looked up to heaven, and broken the loaves. The multitude is fed.
What can we take away from this Gospel proclamation? The most important element is trust in God. The disciples are overwhelmed by the apparent impossibility of the task they are given. Jesus trusts God to provide, and God does.-Jesus blesses the loaves and breaks them, and when the disciples distribute the food, it is sufficient. Do you think the disciples had sufficient trust in God? What about you and me? Have you ever been in a situation where the resources at hand seem terribly inadequate to the task at hand? Did you despair and walk away from the challenge at hand? If you didn’t it is probably because you trusted in God to provide. You must have prayed. Were your prayers answered? I can say that mine have been, many times. I have come away from those experiences with a heightened trust in God.
´There was nothing to do but pray, and beg the Lord not to take our little daughter away´
Once on a Maundy Thursday morning thirty five years ago, when we lived on the hot and dusty South coast of Honduras, one of our children took ill. She was 10 months old. She began to vomit, and to have uncontrollable diarrhea. It was 108 degrees, and we had an air conditioner only in our bedroom but not the rest of the house. Most of the doctors in town were at the beach, drinking.  Others had gone away. There was no sober doctor to be found. There were only a couple of nurses’ aides on duty at the local clinics and hospitals. Calls to Tegucigalpa failed to locate any of the pediatricians we knew, or knew of. Our daughter kept running from both ends, and I realized with a sinking feeling that she was going to die. There was nothing to do but pray, and beg the Lord not to take our little daughter away. I tell you I prayed hard, not on my knees and not out loud-just in my heart.
Soon things began to happen. At mid-morning a friend in Tegucigalpa reported that there was a pediatrician who had not gone on holiday because of a sick child who was hospitalized-he had contacted him, and the doctor had said he would see our daughter at a hospital in town. Tegucigalpa was 140 kilometers away, at least two hours on a not very good road. My daughter’s eyes had rolled up in her head, and she was showing other serious signs of dehydration as we got into the car.
I had a big clunky car-the air conditioning had not worked for some weeks. But as we began our desperate drive to Tegucigalpa it began to work, and we were able to cool the air down for the baby. Our daughter had been unable to keep anything down-not water, not coca cola doctored with lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda, not milk. I had bought a bottle of an oral rehydration liquid. She had also thrown that up. Now as the temperature began to drop in the car she began to accept sips of the rehydration fluid. By the time we got to Tegucigalpa she had drunk the entire bottle. She would live.
At the hospital our daughter was hooked up to an intravenous feed and started on antibiotics. She would remain on the i.v. feed for 10 days until she started to retain fluids again. Her pregnant mother slept  beside her cot, sometimes on a chair through the last part of Easter week and all of the following week.
Now you could say that we were lucky-lucky that a friend found a pediatrician 140 kilometers away who would see our baby in the middle of the holidays when everyone else was at the beach, lucky that the air conditioning in the car began to work when it had not, lucky that the baby began to sip the oral rehydration fluid, and kept it down as we drove, lucky that she responded to the i.v. and antibiotics at the hospital, but isn’t that too many “luckies” all in a row? 

The Lord God answered our prayers, he heard our anguish, and he had compassion on us and our little daughter. That’s my story.
Thank you Lord Jesus
AMEN

The Reverend Ricardo Frohmader is Associate Minister, Saint Alban Mission, Antigua, Guatemala, Diocese of Guatemala, IARCA

PLANNING A VISIT TO GUATEMALA?

  

Saint Alban Mission Antigua, Guatemala

You are invited to join us for English services every Sunday at Noon.

Casa Convento Concepcion, Antigua Guatemala, All are welcome.

See welcome letter at the sidebar.


St. Alban English Mission, Antigua, Guatemala is an outreach project of The St. James English parish, Episcopal Diocese of Guatemala, IARCA


The Most Reverend Armando Guerra Soria,  Rector of St. Alban Mission, Bishop of Guatemala and Primate of Central America

The Reverend Ricardo Frohmader 
Associate Minister of St. Alban Mission
Antigua, Guatemala

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