body and soul, Elisha, Ephesians, food pantries, hunger, John, Kings, loaves and fishes, miracle, need, St. Paul, The Sophia Center for Spirituality, unity
The gospel reading for this morning is John’s account of the feeding of the 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes (JN 6:1-15). The question of the disciples is “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” A similar question is posed in the first reading (2 KINGS 4:42-44 – less familiar to me) when Elisha directs a man who has given him 20 barley loaves to “give it to the people to eat.” When his servant asks, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” The prophet repeats, “Give it to the people to eat. For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over…'” Indeed, in both cases there was a great deal left over – one miracle foreshadowing the other, greater one.
It is, I think, the coming together of need and the willingness to satisfy it that creates the miracle in these readings. I think about the prevailing sense that there is enough food in the world today so that no one need go hungry if we will take steps toward a just distribution of what exists. Lately I’ve been seeing reports of more and more efforts in this regard – some in direct service, e.g. food collections at various events as “entry fees” and church collections for their food pantries, and some that address systems like the Clinton Foundation Global Initiative Food Systems Track that “supports strategies to meet the rapidly growing global demand for food while also protecting the natural resources critical to the future of food production and human well-being.” (www.clintonfoundation.org)
St. Paul is reminding the Ephesians this morning of our call to live a life of unity in the spirit of “the one God who is over all and through all and in all.” (EPH 4:1-6). In this way, the feeding of the people takes on a deeper meaning leading to the “human well-being” spoken of above. So when we bring our canned goods to church or give a donation to an organization like Bread for the World, let us pray for that unity and be willing to participate in the feeding of both the body and soul of our brothers and sisters throughout our neighborhood and the world.