The readings for today sound like they could be written for the 21st century, “first-world” people who think they deserve all the good things of the earth without much effort to earn them. That may sound harsh but it seems valid to me, as I read today’s first Scripture reading which does sound like a recognition of the adage “It was ever thus.” (Nm 11:4b-15)
Moses is having a hard time with the people who had followed him out of Egypt and are now complaining because they have no meat to eat. One would think that they would be satisfied and even grateful for the manna that appeared every night so that they had something to eat every day. (They were escaping servitude, after all.) But no; they grumbled and spoke about what they had left in Egypt – so much that Moses asked God to kill him so he wouldn’t have to “face their distress any more.”
Jesus found himself in a similar situation when he was grieving over the death of John the Baptist. It seems that all he wanted was a little time for himself but the crowds followed him, hoping to be cured of their illnesses. In an unlikely turn of events, when the disciples came to him for a solution to lack of food for so many people when it was growing late, he didn’t offer them a solution right away. He simply said, “Give them something to eat yourselves.” They must have been dumbfounded at that statement; they were far away from any place where they could have found food. One wonders if he was just frustrated at the lack of preparedness of the crowd. (Why didn’t they have food with them? Were they not expecting such an event?) Maybe he was just tired and sad at the loss of his friend/cousin John.
It didn’t take long to find a solution to this situation, however. One of his disciples must have been checking around the crowd because they knew that someone had a mere five loaves and two fish. Offering that as a solution to the thousands of people who were hungry was enough to have Jesus scan the crowd, having been shaken out of his mood, perhaps, by the size of the crowd and be filled with pity for them. He fed them all.
These thoughts all lead me to consider my expectations. Do I expect God to always answer my requests as if I were the only person asking, i.e. Do I take God for granted? What am I willing to offer as a solution to the difficult issues/situations in my life? How am I willing to answer the needs of others as an aide to God?
To what action does this story call you?