Most of us would be as appalled as the Twelve if Jesus made this staggering demand of us. Feed five thousand people? On a fisherman’s salary? In the middle of nowhere? Give us some lead-time, a boat, some nets, some fundraising expertise maybe. Give us fair odds. Five thousand to twelve is insurmountable by human standards. Five loaves and two fish would hardly make a satisfying meal for the dozen of them, much less for five thousand unexpected guests. In God’s eyes, there’s no such thing as unexpected guests. We should expect a guest at any moment, because the world is our neighbour. The world is our guest, and our hospitality can never be enough unless we ground ourselves absolutely in God’s power to satisfy. No better time to start than now, because our guests are getting mighty hungry while we argue about this.
The Scripture (Luke 9:14-17) Jesus Feeds Five Thousand Men
But Jesus went ahead and directed his disciples, “Sit them down in groups of about fifty”. They did what he said, and soon had everyone seated. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread and fish to the disciples to hand out to the crowd. After the people had all eaten their fill, twelve baskets of leftovers were gathered up.
Often, no matter how dire their circumstances, a beautifully peaceful look will wash over the face of a nursing mother. These women report an overwhelming sense of joy in nurturing and nourishing their young. Providing for the health and well-being of a loved one is an extremely satisfying experience for anyone: parents caring for children, children caring for ailing parents, lovers caring for their mates. In the most Christian of acts, we offer ourselves – our flesh and blood, time and energy – out of love for another human being. But even as we experience a deep satisfaction in caring for others, worry and fatigue can constantly hound us, and all too often impatience and resentment creep in. That is when the caretakers need their own nourishment.
Who is there to feed them? Sooner or later all hunger leads to Christ. He offers us the bread of life. If we eat it, we will never hunger. If we drink from his cup, we will never thirst.
Why? Because in the very act of sharing in his body and blood, we will come to know that we are loved. Anxiety and worry are brought to rest, and we move through another day, certain that God is with us, sustaining us and allowing us a small taste of God’s unending glory with each caring act we perform.
Look sensitively, and realise your influence for good.
Look around, and know what you can achieve with other members of the community.
Look with humility, and wonder at what God has done and will do for you.
Look thankfully, and realise what God has given you.
Look practically, and see the work you can do for God and God’s purposes.
Look graciously and know that God loves you beyond all time and all imagining.
GPBS © (2022)