As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.Everyone knows this story and almost everyone takes it at face value: Jesus miraculously blessed the loaves and the fish, everyone was filled, and there were twelve baskets leftover. It wasn’t until this past Mother’s Day when I wondered if maybe there was more to this story than just the miracle, but before I talk about this interesting revelation, I have to go back about six years to when my family first started going to the parish that we currently attend. We were a young family; my two oldest boys were four and five at the time and my daughter was one. My boys were attending the parish school and we were slowly making friends with the other parents who also happened to be parishioners. One Sunday after Mass, my husband and I decided to throw an impromptu potluck and invite all these new friends over to the house. It ended up being a smashing success and my husband and I agreed that these potlucks were going to be our new thing. For over six years now my husband and I have been gathering more people into the fold and throwing these potlucks after the 10 AM Mass. The guest list now has over forty families (including our priest and seminarian). Even my neighbors are part of these shindigs! I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want to be invited to those parties where there’s like 10 cars parked up and down the road? Maybe introverts, but if you’re within a 10-foot radius of The General, I will make you an extrovert whether you like it or not. Just ask my husband. Poor soul. Anyway, so you may be asking, “How in the world do you fit that many people in your house?” The answer? I have no idea. I also have no idea how we always end up with enough food for everyone, but when we take a look back at the story of the loaves and the fishes, the answer is – Jesus. Back to Mother’s Day and my take on the miracle of the loaves and the fishes: I had invited the entire guest list to my Mother’s Day Potluck. A lot of people had to decline because it was First Communion and they already had plans, but I had at least forty-five people (men, women, and children) reply in the affirmative. I don’t know why in the world I thought it would be a good idea to invite almost every family from the 10 AM Mass, seeing that I’m not made out of money and the host of the potluck provides the main course, but I went ahead and bought the items I needed with the money I had. I told everyone what was on the menu and prayed there would be enough food and drinks for the entire group. And just like what happened with Jesus, there was so much amazing food, snacks, desserts, and drinks that we didn’t run out of anything! We even had food left over! And that’s when it hit me. Jesus loves potlucks! He loves when people bring what they have to the table. He loves to bless it and multiply it. He loves to bless friendships and community. He loves to bless conversations and laughter. That is how our little rag-tag potluck group of four families turned into forty. And wouldn’t you know it? These friends have spun off and started their own groups. Now there’s even a Saturday brunch potluck! Friends, if you feel like your church is dead and in need of a pick-me-up or if you’re having a hard time finding community in your church, HAVE A POTLUCK! But it has to be at someone’s house. That is 100% key. This is not an organized ministry. This is Jesus saying, “Hey, Zacchaeus! I’m coming to your house today!” That is your challenge this week. I don’t need you to comment in the comment box. I need you to find four families and invite them over to your house for a potluck either this Sunday or the next and ask Jesus to bless your potluck like He did the loaves and the fish. Happy Potluck-ing!
Copyright 2018 Kelly Tallent
About the Author
Kelly Tallent, who blogs as “The General,” is mother to five children and wife to a living saint. She is the author of The Joyful Pessimist, a self-published journal that delves deeply into the intricacies of living the life of a Catholic Christian woman. You can find her book, links, and blog at The Joyful Pessimist.