Psalm 63:1-8(9-11),98 (Morning)
Psalm 103 (Evening)
1 John 2:18-29
The story of the Feeding of the Multitude is such a heavy hitter in our Biblical consciousness, we don’t always pay a lot of attention to what precedes it. We don’t always notice that Jesus and the disciples were pretty road-weary and crowd-weary, and the plan was to get away and spend a little time recharging their batteries.
Well…that didn’t happen.
Instead, they apparently only ended up in a fishbowl. Even trying to take off and get away in a boat attracted a crowd, who soon followed. What we discover in Mark’s version is that “the multitude” was actually a bunch of “lookie-loos” that more or less ruined their retreat! When we put both these parts of the story together, we are reminded that there is abundance even among a backdrop of personal disappointment, weariness, and possibly even despair. In fact, perhaps this story is a reminder for all of us not to give up five minutes before the miracle happens, to borrow from Twelve Step spirituality
As is often the case when I start reflecting on our shared Daily Office time together, contemporary stories or articles are often on my mind. I couldn’t help but think about the weariness, the I’m sick of people-ness, and the leave-me-alone-ness Jesus and the disciples may have felt in this story, and how those feelings affect us in our busy contemporary world. In fact, it is one of the many feelings that drive people towards contemplating suicide as a solution, and a recent article from the Boston Globe kept creeping into my mind as a pondered the first part of our Gospel today. The article spoke of how some individuals whose suicide attempts had gone awry, now speak out to help others who are struggling. These survivors stress the importance of retaining the memory of their feelings at the time of their, rather than denying them, putting them aside, or ignoring them, as a path to true healing for others. They, too, are offering what might appear to be five meager loaves and a couple of fish…and at first glance, the fish might even seem a little overripe. Yet, they, too, are feeding others with what they have, in the hope of abundance.
You know, I don’t think Jesus and the disciples put aside their own disappointment in the ruination of their retreat time as they approached the multitude. Indeed, you can hear the disciples’ dismay as they survey their own meager food cache. Yet, at the same time, the disciples trusted Jesus and followed his lead. All any of us can do is share what we have, raw as it might seem. We can only trust that somewhere within our own life stories, is abundance.
What are the loaves and fishes in your life that you’ve discounted as being insufficient for feeding others? How might God use them to create abundance?
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid