The Gospel passage this past Sunday was the Matthew passage of the feeding of the five thousand. What struck me most was the concern of the disciples. Their hearts are in the right place. The multitudes are out in this deserted place, and the disciples are concerned about their welfare.
Jesus surprises them by suggesting they find something for the multitudes to eat. Not at all out of stinginess, but just seeing the impossibility of the situation, the disciples say they only have five loaves and two fish. Jesus takes this meager offering, and does the impossible.
Christ is not asking us to do more than we are able, not asking us to give more than we have, not asking us to be more than we are. He is just asking for our five loaves and two fish.
We think our offerings are too small, just like the disciples. We don’t see how all our little, daily offerings and sacrifices, the insignificant conversations and imperceptible actions to our neighbor, could ever add up to something that sounds so lofty as a “life of virtue”, or “holiness”, or “godliness”. But then, Christ takes them and does the impossible, the inconceivable. Our small sacrifices of praise, our simple offerings are all he asks for.
As we continue to celebrate, throughout this week, the feast of Transfiguration, we should see the connection to that glorious mountaintop experience, too. Though we may struggle to connect ourselves to such a glorious event, what we miss is that we are part of it
every time we give these daily offerings.
Listen to this psalm, used in the hymnography for this feast, but also every time we pray our pre-communion prayers:
Who shall ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not driven his soul unto vanity, who has not sworn falsely to his neighbor. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, great mercy from the God of his salvation. (Ps 23, Sheehan psalter)
How do we take part in the Transfiguration? How do we get to experience such a great and marvelous thing? How do we get to go up that mountain and see the glorious light?
That psalm lists the same kind of daily offerings, struggles, and sacrifices any one of us might mention: trying to not be vain and prideful, avoiding lies and other forms of unprofitable speech. Those are the ones, those are the faithful, who ascend the mountain, who enter the tabernacle, who commune with God. No, we are not worthy, but Christ takes our daily offerings, and works the impossible.
Don’t look down on your five loaves and two fish. Give those daily sacrifices and offerings unto the Lord. And he will transfigure us, imperceptibly, into sons and daughters of God,
those who commune in him, and become one with God himself.