Let yourself become open to God and the knowledge that comes from the Word. Ask God for peace at this time.
Luke 9:10-17 (NRSV)
On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
God opens the gift wrap of this story a little wider every time I read it. I’ve marveled before at the miracle of the leftovers as a sign of God’s lavish abundance when meeting our needs. I’ve been told that perhaps the miracle was less about divine food production and more about loosening the greedy grip around the lunch sack—that Jesus miraculously inspired the multitude to feed itself with the spirit of sharing. But the breaking down of the crowd into smaller chunks of fifty-ish? Brand new to me today.
What a savvy strategy Jesus demonstrated here! Who doesn’t feel paralyzed in the face of 5,000 needs to fill? Breaking them down into 100 smaller orderly groups of problems affords a manageable view of the task. Then, if we share our burdens with…oh, say, 12 fellow disciples, the work load drops to below ten sets of issues. What a difference! In difficult situations, God provides the resources (even if they appear inadequate) and other disciples called to the same task. May we look for ways to pare down problems to manageable proportions. May we also look for partners in faith to share our joyful burdens of service.
Compassionate God, thank you for the example of your son who met the immediate needs of the multitudes by blessing what you provided and sharing the work with his friends. Equip us to do the same for all those hungry for food and for your love. Amen.
Go with God.