Thursday, January 27, 2011

Feeding Others

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. Mark 6:30-44

When we were recently in Albuquerque with a large group of Native people we were hosted by the Cathedral and the local Navajo churches. On Sunday, I wandered into the kitchen to talk to my friends Alice and Cornelia. They are mother and daughter and were responsible for making the big feast we were having later in the day. Both women were engaged in making huge amounts of food for the crowd, laughing and carrying on with me as if they did this every day. They were preparing to make Navajo tacos for our supper - ground lamb (often, more traditionally mutton) on fry bread with all the taco trimmings. Such glorious comfort food! And it was delicious later that night. But I was reminded in their presence how important food is to our lives, not just in our sustenance but in our very identity and self-worth. How food binds us together, binds our traditions and identifies us to others, reminds us who we are.

The feeding of so great a crowd with two small fish and five loaves of bread was a tremendous miracle. But even more than the food miracle was the people miracle. They knew God's presence and their relationship to God in the breaking of the bread. They learned in their fullness that God was ever compassionate and ready to find ways to bring them food and comfort in the most desolate places. People who had been hungering for the touch of God spiritually, also were touched by God's love physically, in that Jesus found a way to fill them to overflowing with comfort food, their comfort food, and not a strangers. Their identities were linked with God from that day forward, they were part of God's family and part of the crowd who knew God as one of them.

Today, I want to live always aware of the needs of others around me, both their physical needs and their very real need to be identified as loved and cared for - part of the family of God. May all my work and actions reveal God's love and the fullness and breadth of God's love for us all.

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