When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
Saint John explains Jesus' question to Philip as "testing him because he already knew what he was going to do." That may be an unhumorous way of recalling Jesus' teasing of Philip, who sometimes comes off as the dimmest light on a rather dark Christmas tree.
In any case, Jesus knew what he was going to do and why. As the synoptics say, "he had compassion on the crowd, who were like sheep without a shepherd."
We cannot remind ourselves too often of God's compassionate initiative in our salvation. Nor should we forget for a moment our need for salvation.
Faced with innumerable difficulties, dwindling resources and growing weariness we often gather in small groups and commiserate "Ain't it awful? The world is going to hell in a handbag."
Which is to say, we miss the point entirely.
Our pathetic helplessness should not be surprising; it's not new and it's not news. We have always been "at sea" and "lost like puppy dogs in the high weeds" and "downstream without a paddle."
Despite our amazing creativity and resourcefulness we really cannot save ourselves. We must open our hearts to the saving grace of God, which is to say, "Ask!"
If our mouths are not open we cannot eat; if our hearts are not opened by our asking we cannot receive.
In the face of a Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton candidacy (choose your poison!) we obviously need divine intervention! In the face of global warming which is the result of our own wasteful pollution, we need God's help. Overwhelmed by our own pain relieving medication -- which is looking more and more like a Faustian pact with Satan -- we must "Turn our life and will over to the care of God" and "humbly" ask his help.
Long before we knew we were in trouble the Lord planned to save us. But we are engaged as partners in salvation. We are not simply bedraggled tourists on this lifeboat.
Baptized, Eucharisted and Confirmed as members of the Body of Christ, we partake and participate in our salvation. Our "AMEN!" must engage every part of our being. Believing that Jesus is Lord is not simply entertaining an opinion about him; it energizes and directs every thought, word and deed in a gladsome response.
We have only to watch in grateful amazement as the Lord gathers us, feeds us and sends us to feed our neighbors with his life-giving bread.