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Problem solving attitude

By Stephen Ojapah MSP After the death of John the Baptist, his disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and…

By Stephen Ojapah MSP

After the death of John the Baptist, his disciples came and took his body and buried it.

Then they went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.

Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.  When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.  When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”  They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.  And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.  And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Mathew 14:10-21).

There are many scholarly interpretation of this chapter and verses. William Barclay in his analysis of the Study Bible, gave a very fascinating explanation to this chapter and verses. The compassion of Christ was manifest, his teaching on generosity that multiplies other’s blessings was silver-tongued and smooth-tongued. Other Analysts, focused on his mighty works that knows no bounds. On numerous occasions, preachers would link his feeding the multitude with his ability to feed his people spiritually. In other words, the feeding of the multitude served as a foretaste of what Jesus did for us in the Institution of the Eucharist, where he feeds us daily with his most scared body and blood.

Today’s reflection is just adding to one of such numerous interpretations; Jesus having a problem solving attitude to life. After listening to him for days, the disciples were hungry. He certainly did not send them back hungry, he solved their problem of hunger by providing them with food. In Exodus chapter 16, we read about the enthralling story of Moses and his people, when they complained of hunger and insulted Moses. They fantasized about their ‘glorious days’ as slaves in Egypt, just because of hunger. Moses took the complaint to the Lord, and God rained down Manna from heaven for the people.

In the history, of the Israelites, Moses stood out as a phenomenal figure. For the Jews, he represented one who attended to all the troubles of the people, one who solved their problem. When the people of Israel where going through difficulties in the land of Egypt, Moses was after how his people could be liberated. When eventually, pharaoh allowed them to leave, the people began to bring all manner of complaint, and at each phase of the complaint, Moses was standing by with a solution. Problem solving attitude is what we see in the lives of the prophets and the early church fathers. They devoted their lives in addressing issues and solving problems.  After Jesus finished teaching his followers, they were hungry, and where in need of food to eat. Jesus asked his disciples, how can we find food for these multitude of people? They wandered how five loaves and two fish could go round, eventually Jesus used what they brought and fed the people. He solved the problem of hunger.  Problem solving attitude is a catalyst for development: spiritually, technologically, environmentally and economically.

For centuries, man has used different means to travel beginning from donkeys and horses. The vast space in this world has left millions of people thinking on how best and fast can a human being cover it. This problem solving attitude is what the Wright brothers contemplated and executed with the invention of the aircraft. Thanks to the brilliant foundation laid by phenomenal  scientists like Galileo and Leonardo Davinci., The Wright brothers- Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912) – were two American aviation pioneers generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world’s first successful motor-operated airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier- than- air aircraft with the Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903, 4 mi (6 km) south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The brothers were also the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.

One of the reasons why the devil wills so much power and influence over us humans sometimes, is because he appears to solve problems. People are looking for those who offer solutions to the problems of life, whatever the problems are: it could be spiritual, material, psychosocial, educational, political, etc. Whatever it is, a Christian should carry the seed of solution, wherever he or she finds herself. We may not be as great as the Wright brothers, but there are myriads of problems beseeching us that are begging for solutions, our joys lies in spending all our energy in trying to proffer solutions.

Those who spend their time in proffering solutions to life’s challenges are not necessarily, the best and the brightest, but they have simply understood, the secret of life and joy. Mother Teresa of Calcutta spent all her life in India caring for the abandoned men and women lying on the streets of India, she gained international recognition and became a state woman in so many countries, and in the Church, she became an icon and a hero of faith. Did she find the care for the poor and elderly, a simply task to handle? No. But spending all her time and energy in addressing those issues lies her inner joy and strength. That is a mystery in the problem solving attitude.

A problem solving attitude is what Nigeria needs as a country, and indeed all other citizens of the world. The many problems confronting us can only be addressed when we are constantly seeking to better the lives of others. We do this in the minutest way. Little drops makes an ocean they say. There are so many communities that are in search of drinking water, some in need of a hospital, and others in need of a school, while many are in need of a quality life. These are problems that we should busy ourselves trying to solve. Don’t wait to become a politician, because you may never become one.

A young Lady in my parish, who is yet to finish her education told me, her biggest dream in life is to see how she can build a hospital in the community, where women will have immediate access to health care facility, she told me she has watched so many women die needlessly, and she wants to spend the rest of her life solving that problem; beginning from her little village of Gidan Mai Kambu. That is a daughter of Christ who has a problem solving attitude, even when her current resources and position in the society suggests the impossible.

Fr Stephen Ojapah is a priest of the Missionary Society of St Paul. He is equally the director for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism for the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, a member of IDFP. He is also a KAICIID Fellow