There have been times in your life when you felt so helpless or powerless. The power you have is so limited that you admit “this is all I have”! Parents do all they can with their children and expect the best because they give to them all they have – all their love, however the children interpret it and make use of it in their life. Some children may turn out wonderfully well, some struggle a lot and a few just may not find their way through life. But the parents gave them all they have, and that is all that matters! In times of illness, you can only give all that you have – courage, hope, strength, care, love, comfort and prayers. Even those in the medical field voice out the same expression of limitation in the face of a bewildering illness: “we cannot do anything more about your condition”. In some instances, the doctors admit that the situation is beyond them; it is more than what they know.
This knowledge of our limitation is most obvious in this unusual time when Covid-19 has almost literally grounded the world and changed drastically the way we know and do things. We are all frustrated, and scientists, doctors, nurses are giving ALL THEY HAVE to see if this pandemic can be contained, mitigated or at least brought to a manageable proportion. The government has stepped in to allay our survival fears by providing economic stimulus for small businesses, families and individuals. Scientists are working day and night all over the world to produce a vaccine. But we have to wait, for it takes time to make a vaccine that is trustworthy and effective. What we knew as normal has suddenly disappeared and we are living in “uncertain normalcy” if there is anything like that. This is summer, the season that is naturally associated with a flurry of happenings, ranging from outdoor activities to vacations and travels. As seductive as the season is, we are all careful because things are no longer as normal as they used to be! It is a very overwhelming situation on a global level. However powerful and invincible we used to feel as 21st century men and women, this Pandemic has brought us to a different level of consciousness: we have limits as individuals and as a species!
The disciples in this weekend’s gospels came in touch with their limits when Jesus asks them to give the crowd following him food instead of sending them away hungry. They confess their limits: “five loaves and two fish are all we have here” (Mt. 14: 16-17). Their answer expresses their powerlessness; the situation is overwhelming and beyond their limits. But it is at that moment of recognition and acknowledgement of their limits, that the Divine Power steps in. Five loaves and two fish could, perhaps, feed a family of seven (conservative estimation)! Jesus takes their limited resources, infuses them with divine power through prayer, and feeds thousands of men, women and children and a lot of leftovers are collected (Mt. 14: 18-21). The limitless power of God literally transformed the limitations of the disciples to the amazement of everyone.
This story is not just any story: it is a profound invitation to all of us to look beyond our limits, to have a broader vision of our experiences of limitation and powerlessness and step out in faith to the One who has the power to transform our limits according to His designs. We may not know ahead of time the direction God’s power will stretch our experience of limits; but for certain, His power will take us somewhere beyond our imagination. In a sense, every experience of our limitations is an opportunity for divine manifestation (Epiphany), if we have eyes of faith to see and recognize it! This truth applies to your personal experiences and our collective experience of this coronavirus pandemic. Just as Jesus asked the disciples to bring to him their limited loaves and fish, so he is asking you and all of us to bring to him our powerlessness and fears and he will transform! May you be blessed as you do so, now and always.