Sunday, July 30, 2006

Of loaves, fishes, and turkeys

In today's Gospel, we hear about the miracle of the loaves and fishes. You may have heard some talking about this being a "miracle of sharing:" that all of the people who were on the mountain with Jesus had food in their pouches and shared it with each other. As our celebrant at Mass said today, such an interpretation indicates a real lack of faith.

He then went on to share his own loaves and fishes story with all of us, which I will recount here. I recall hearing Father tell this story the last time this Gospel reading came around and it's still pretty awesome (funny...same priest, same Gospel). Father went to college at St. Joseph's in Brooklyn, NY, which is where he heard this story.

Every year, some of the young people went with the chaplain to a The Lord's Ranch in New Mexico, about 20 miles west of El Paso, TX area to work with the very poor people there. The people they worked with would earn a very meager living by going through the local garbage dump to collect whatever they could to resell: scrap metal, clothing, etc.

In Christmas of 1972, the people who worked at the ranch, led by Fr. Rick Thomas, SJ (those darn Jesuits! ;) ) who ran the ranch, decided to offer a holiday meal for the people they worked with. They got enough food for about 160 people. When they announced they were going to have this dinner, over 300 people showed up. The workers were horrified. There was no way what they bought would feed everyone. There would be riots when they ran out of food, they feared.

Fr. Rick gathered everyone in the kitchen and led them in prayer. He recalled the miracle described in the sixth chapter of the Gospel according to St. John and asked the Lord to help the people. He asked God to remember the hungry people gathered there and to remember that some of them would have their faith in the Lord shaken if there was no food for them to eat. He reminded God that it was "the Lord's own good name on the line here" with the 300+ hungry men, women, and children. They ended their prayer and began to serve dinner.

They fed the first 150 and there was still more left over. They fed the next 150 with plenty to spare. It was as if the hams and turkeys grew as they were cut instead of getting smaller. They fed 300 and more people without running out of food. Everyone who came to the ranch that day for dinner left with a full stomach. And they had so much left over that they took the food to two local orphanages and fed more people there. They next went to a local nursing home where they were able to feed all of the resdient and there was still so much food left over. They left everything there at the nursing home at the end of the day. You can find a brief recount of the story within another story about volunteers going to the ranch at this link.

Little miracles really do happen every day. It's just nice to hear every once in a while about a really big one happening. It's some reassurance for us silly little people still here struggling on this earth that the Lord is still working, in through, and among us.

1 comment:

Damian Ryan said...

Thank you so much for sharing about fr. Rick, I had the privilege of knowing Fr. Rick, I met him on his visit to Ireland.
He was a truly a wonderful spirit led man of God.
I feel I knew someone who in my opinion may well be raised to sainthood.
Fr. Damian Ryan.