“Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” …Philip answered him, “Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” …Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish…”
—John 6:5b, 7-9b
How do we solve problems? There's Philip's way. And there's Andrew's way.
There is a big crowd of people, and they are hungry. Philip surveys the size of the crowd, puts his calculator to it and announces the daunting facts. Too many people; not enough money. This is more than the feeding committee can handle.
But Andrew, simple Andrew. The brother in the shadow of Peter's charisma. Andrew brings up a boy. The Greek word used is the word for a little boy. A boy with five barley loaves and two fish. Barley is the kind of bread that the poor people eat, very small loaves; and the fish are those little dried, salted things. It's a meal for one peasant. Andrew brings the boy to Jesus.
What kind of inner disposition does it take for Andrew to do that? In any board room or work group he would be ignored at best, more likely ridiculed. But there is in him a remarkable combination of humility and trust. Really it's a form of love.
He loves Jesus so much, trusts so much, that he is free to offer an absurdly inadequate resource, not knowing what good it could possibly accomplish. If Andrew had any more pride or any less trust, he would have ignored the child. The committee would have had to figure out some orderly way to disburse the hungry crowd.
Andrew has a combination of inner and outer vision. Like Philip he sees the material picture of the situation:...five barley loaves and two fish; ...what are they among so many people? He can see the real life problem. But he also has an inner disposition that we might call living in faith.
He probably thinks the world is basically a good place and that there is always enough to meet our needs. He's probably one of those people who says “yes” a lot. He probably doesn't worry too much about trying to fix things because he pretty much accepts them as they are. After all, he's able to accept a little boy with a peasant's meal.
Andrew is living in something. We've got lots of words for it: living in the Spirit; living in faith; living in hope; living in love. It's like being inside something wonderful, something powerful that pushes life in a loving direction. When you live in the river, you don't have to push it. You can just flow with it. The head can rest in what the heart knows.
As author Richard Rohr says, “The great commandment is not ‘thou shalt be right.’ The great commandment is to ‘be in love.’ Be inside the great compassion, the great stream, the great river.…All that is needed is surrender and gratitude.…All we can do is accept and give thanks.” (Everything Belongs, p. 77)
So Jesus accepts the crowd, accepts the boy, accepts the bread and the fish, gives thanks for it all, and they all have as much as they wanted. Andrew helped make it happen.
Let me be Andrew today, O God, accepting the gifts of the moment and living inside your Spirit of love, with gratitude and surrender. Amen.
Copyright ©2005 Lowell E. Grisham.