To get away for a while, Jesus and his Apostles crossed over to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee in a boat. Watching them go, those with a boat available crossed over following them. Many more walked all around the lake to join up with them on the far shore.
Seeing this great crowd coming towards him and gathering around him Jesus knew that they were very tired and hungry.
His first concern was their physical needs. He asked Philip if they could buy bread for them. Philip replied that they had no money for this but the little food they had – 5 barley loves and two fish – they could share.
Whenever I begin to feel sorry for myself I remind myself of the 34,361 migrants and refugees known to have died while fleeing oppression, war and poverty in their own countries and attempting to find a new home within the borders of the EU. These are only those known to have died; the actual figure is much higher. The names of over 90% of the former are unknown. Their families will never know what happened to them or where they were buried, if they were buried.
Whenever I begin to think that I am seriously trying to be a Christian. Whenever I begin to think that I am doing my bit as a Christian, I have to remind myself of my complacency concerning the thousands of bodies washed up on our shores.
Jesus of Nazareth is asking me ‘where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ ‘Where shall we find a place for these people to live?’ “Where shall we find work for these people to do?”
The above is a very good reality check for me. It brings me down to earth. It shows me clearly how far I am prepared to go ‘to love my neighbour as myself.’ Not very far at all.
As St. Paul said concerning the tendency to think that he was doing well, to think that he was a good Christian: “Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, …. to keep me from being too elated.”
Today, the plight of migrants and refugees is ‘the thorn in the flesh’ that shows me how far I fall short of being a real Christian.
The greatest block to God’s helping me is my pride.
Pride is thinking that I can ‘pray God’ into doing something for me or for others. If it does come about I immediately credit myself with it.
Pride is feeling pleased with myself for donating to some worthy cause when from God’s point of view I am only sharing with others what is rightfully theirs.
I need to constantly remind myself of how far I fall short. My attitude to migrants and refugees is a good way of doing this.