He will multiply your ‘loaves and fish’
JOHN 6:1–15 By Sandee and Hilary Bengochea
We have fond memories of our original Marriage Encounter weekend in 1985. During the weekend, we experienced deeper feelings of love for, and more so, understanding of each other, as never before. We came to see and appreciate each other’s qualities with new eyes.
However, most of all, we understood our marital relationship as a sacrament, a sign of Jesus Christ’s love for His Church. It was a life-changing experience, a transcendent experience of God through Jesus Christ acting in our lives. What we thought was simply a fantastic weekend turned out to be the beginning of a new life in Christ.
The presenting couples saw we possessed ‘five barley loaves and two fish’ and at the end of the weekend they asked us to offer them to Christ.
Unlike the young boy in today’s gospel, we were not aware of our possession. But these gifts were drawn out from within us under the guidance and mentoring of a wonderful couple, Vaughn and Merle Amow and we were later asked to share them with the Church.
We reflect on the generosity of that young boy 2,000 years ago who selflessly offered his loaves and fish, enabling Jesus to perform one of His memorable miracles.
We also, with much persuading and nudging, humbly offered up our gifts. And Jesus Christ has multiplied these loaves and fish beyond our wildest expectations. He has fed the five thousand. Not only within the Marriage Encounter Movement, but in the larger Church as well.
Jesus Christ also multiplied the loaves and the fish in our personal lives, giving us four children, their spouses and three grandchildren. We have also met many couples along the journey, with whom we have come to share special relationships. Many of them are still with us today, over 30 years later, journeying in love. Together with these special couple friends, they have filled our lives with love and joy.
Through these life-changing experiences, Jesus Christ placed within our hearts a desire to leave the comfort of salaried jobs and boldly embark on a small business in training and development, where we have also offered our loaves and fish to numerous business enterprises.
This has not always been a comfortable journey. There were many times, over the years, when we ourselves told Jesus “Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.” But we have witnessed Jesus taking the loaves and blessing it.
This week the Church is celebrating the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Immaculate Mary. Many of you married persons who are reading this reflection may be saying to yourselves, in these pandemic times, that you do not even have five loaves and two fish.
We would like to tell you to trust in God’s mercy. We also, in 1985, did not believe we possessed loaves and fish, but a married couple stood next to us, like angels, and showed us otherwise.
And now, more than ever in the world, His people are asking, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Physical food, yes indeed, but also spiritual food, and food that brings hope, and comfort.
The young boy in the Gospel probably stood in amazement at what was taking place with his small offering. It probably was his first encounter with Jesus, the miracle worker.
We encourage you to offer up your loaves and fish generously to Jesus Christ, and we assure you He will multiply them so that there are 12 wicker baskets of fragments.
And through our gifts, the people will recognise Him. “This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.”
Lord, forgive us for those days we doubted our gifts. Please send couple angels into our lives to help us discover ‘the five loaves and two fish’ that we possess within, in Christ, so that He can use it to feed five thousand.
The gospel meditations for July were by Hilary and Sandee Bengochea who have been married for 41 years and have been actively involved in marriage and family life ministries for over 35 years. They are the parents of four children.
Hilary is an Aspirant in the Diaconate programme, and Sandee is involved in the Caribbean arm of the World Community for Christian Meditation.
They lead the group Bible Circles Meditation which practises Lectio Divina, Christian Meditation and warm hugs!