by John Shi
Yesterday, our group had the chance to visit Tabgha. Tabgha is on the north-western shore of the sea of Galilee and is well known for the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. There were some other Biblical events that also took place in Tabgha, such as the calling of the first apostles (Mk 1:16-20) and Jesus walking on the waters (Mk 6:45-52). We were blessed to have Mass at the holy site where much of Jesus' ministry happened.
The altar was located near the shoreline of the sea of Galilee where Jesus had called his first disciples. The Gospel for the Mass was the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. When Jesus asked his disciples to feed the crowd, the disciples said to him that they only had five loaves and two fish. Jesus asked the disciples to bring them to him. They brought the five loaves and two fish to Jesus and put them into Jesus' hand. Jesus looked up to heaven, gave thanks, and gave them back to his disciples. Then the five loaves and two fish were able to feed five thousand men, not counting women and children (cf. Mt 14:13-21). The five loaves and two fish were all that the disciples had and it was impossible for them to feed thousands of people with this little amount of food on their own. However, when they heard Jesus say Bring them here to me, they listened and the little food was able to feed the thousands of people.
I then thought about a verse in the Psalm from the Mass which had struck me: The Lord's voice resounding on the waters (Ps.29:3). My imagination brought me back to two thousand years ago and I could imagine Jesus walking on the shore of the sea of Galilee. He called Simon and the others with him, telling them, Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men (Mk 1:16). Once again, this reminded me of "The voice of the Lord resounding on the waters." As I prayed with these readings, God's words, Come, follow me also echoed in my own mind. I felt that God was really calling me at that moment: his voice was really clear to me. I was afraid of responding to it as I began thinking about my weaknesses and my limitations. I thought about such things as whether or not I was smart enough to study all the theological courses and whether I would be able to handle all my future pastoral ministries. I was telling all the worries in my heart to Jesus when suddenly I heard a gentle voice: Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid. At that very moment, I understood that vocation comes directly from God, it is not merely my personal choice. I needed to answer Jesus' calling immediately and put everything into His hands like the disciples did. Jesus is the One who multiplies my five loaves and two fish so that I can distribute them to thousands of people.
Dear friends, I believe the voice of Jesus is still "resounding on the waters," even in your own life. Do you hear Him? Are you going to respond to His voice? Do not be afraid! He is the One who multiplied the five loaves and two fish. He will do the same thing for you in your life.
John ShiJohn (Songsong) Shi is a second-year theologian.