Today is the day when that formidable gospel appears. It’s a great miracle story – but has a twist that makes me groan and look inside myself every time. If I hear the words “feeding of the 5,000” I know I can’t just sail along to the end where everyone gets relaxed on the green grass and fed from 5 loaves and 2 fish until they’re more than satisfied. Jesus is interesting in this text from MK 6:34-44.
When the disciples come and suggest to Jesus that he send the people away after a rather long session of teaching so they can find food somewhere (and perhaps so they themselves can do the same), Jesus comes back with a challenge. “Give them some food yourselves,” he says. Imagine their surprise! How could he even think that was possible? They must have felt silly walking around asking everyone to contribute their meager meal to the huge crowd but they did what he asked. The results were not at all helpful: 5 loaves and 2 fish – for 5,000 people (men only!) but again they did what he asked, having them sit down in groups while Jesus said the blessing over the food and then distributing what became more than enough for everyone.
There’s so much to wonder about. Where did they get the baskets for distribution and collection of leftovers? How did that whole process of distribution start. “He broke the loaves…and divided the fish…” It reminds me of a family vacation where my father took my friend fishing and she came back with one very small fish that she joyfully cooked and distributed among the half-dozen people in attendance – a tiny but wonderful appetizer to the meal. A gift of love.
It doesn’t really matter, I guess, what is given as long as we do willingly what we believe we are being called to do. It is our “Yes” – spoken or not – that counts. God takes care of the rest.