Give Them Some Food
When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion for them and healed those weho were sick. That evening his disciples came and said to him, “This is an isolated place and it’s getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said to them, “There’s no need to send them away. You give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here except five loaves of bread and two fish.” He said, “Bring them here to me.” He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves of bread and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them and broke the loaves apart and gave them to his disciples. Then the disciples gave them to the crowds. Everyone ate until they were full, and they filled twelve baskets with leftovers. About five thousand men plus women and children had eaten.
~ Matthew 14:14-21 Common English Bible
The word used to describe Jesus’ feelings for the crowd is “compassion.” This is a difficult word for Christians. It literally means “suffering with,” which is much more than love, merc6 or pity. It is a word that connects people and Jesus was connected to the poor and oppressed people of his day. Jesus was in solidarity with the people in their physical as well as spiritual hungers – he suffered with them and recognized them as persons of worth. What are we, as his disciples today, willing to do for the crowds, the oppressed, the poor, the marginalized people? Are we ready and willing to show compassion?
Twelve baskets left over! The great crowd is fed,
from few loaves and fishes a banquet is spread.
The needs are so great, our resources so small,
but Christ breaks and blesses enough for us all.
~ Ruth C. Duck
We cannot explain the miracle that took place that day, but in the blessing, breaking, and distributing the food, a miracle took place. By his action, Jesus taught each of those present and us today that we are to share with each other.
In an era of daily reports about a global food crisis, perhaps it is time for the church to extend the table, to view the Lord’s Supper not only as commemorating that Upper Room meal, but also as remembering Jesus’ feeding of the multitude.
~ Don C. Richter
There is a prayer out of Latin America that says: “O God, to those who have hunger give bread and to those who have bread, give the hunger for justice.” When we pray and when we act, we should not only open our eyes regarding those who hunger and are oppressed, but we must open our eyes to our responsibility in changing the social order that brings about injustice.
Twelve baskets left over, much more than we need!
O Christ, name our doubt, our excuses, our greed.
Then teach us to trust you each day that we live,
to share with thanksgiving the gifts that you give.
~ Ruth C. Duck
These reflections are for the week of August 2-8 and based on the scriptures for worship on August 2.
Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.