Fish, Loaves and Houses Built on Sand

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”  Jesus 

We all have known people who claim to be Christians but we see that their actions don’t support that claim. Of course, sometimes that is us. That’s a tricky situation, because we can’t fully grasp their thoughts or their motives. They say that they believe in Christ and  they attend church regularly, but they make jokes at the expense of the poor and marginalized. And, often, before they tell a joke, they realize they must look around to scan the room before telling it.

And, that’s a problem. A big problem. A Christian should look like a Christian. People should see a Christian and realize that there is some powerful quality for good in him. Jesus compares the Christian life to a man building a house.He clearly states that hearing the words he has spoken (going to church) is just not enough. He says that, unless you act on those words there is the possibility for you of meeting a really bad end.

What types of actions build the sound house? I would think it would be the actions that most closely model those of our Lord. We emulate the actions of Jesus when we open our heart to the homeless person on the corner. We emulate Jesus Christ when we smile genuinely at a stranger. We stand up for Christ when we stand up for minorities, immigrants and other marginalized people. I would go so far as to say that, when we don’t do that, we effectively deny our faith and ignore our Lord.

Jesus saw the physical needs of people. A crowd of people came to hear him speak and after three days they were understandably famished. He called his disciples over and said “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” Among them, the disciples were able to access only seven loaves of bread along with a few fish. And, the Bible account even tells us that those fish were small.

Jesus instructed the disciples to have the people sit in orderly rows and then pass out the food. Now, certainly Jesus could have made a meal appear before each person in that crowd. If he chose to, an overflowing basket could have descended upon a  red and white gingham blanket and the picnic would have been on. Instead, he had his disciples do the work. He had them seat the people, distribute the food and manage the cleanup.

I think that Jesus does that today. He provides the material goods, being the provider of everything we call ours, and tells us to go into the crowd and share it. He gives us what we need and expects us to do the work.

The Bible account of the event tells us that “they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.” Could there be a clearer message? When we tilt our hearts toward charity, when we work for justice and to effect societal change , when we see Jesus in the faces of the crowd, we can share what we have been given and we will still have much left over.