Monday, April 4, 2011

A Hungry Mob

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him. “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. John 6:1-15

My mother has spent her life feeding a crowd of one sort or another. My parents had five children which in itself was a hungry mob. My mother, being a pastor’s wife, seemed to always be cooking for church suppers, whether they were Lenten dinners or major fund raisers for the church. And after they retired, my parents started a ministry of feeding poor children one night a week. She was regularly cooking for 50 or more once a week well into her eighties. She has recipes for 50 to 100 servings in all of her cookbooks although she can mostly cook from memory, even now. When she was feeding the children, food donations came from all sorts of places and sometimes would appear in her garage or car without warning. She made sure to make plenty and have take-home containers with her when she served the children, so there were always leftovers for them to take home to their families. My mother taught me at a very early age that there was always abundance in God’s reign and always mouths to feed.

Jesus is teaching the people; he is feeding their hearts and spirits. The people have come from long distances and their needs were great. One child among them arrives with food. He probably had a Mom like mine, who never wanted anyone to go hungry and who always thought ahead and was prepared for any emergency. It’s a good thing to have a Mom who is also a Girl Scout. Well, Jesus takes this small offering, this unexpected gift, and turned it into a feast for thousands. The disciples who had followed him everywhere and witnessed countless miracles, still were anxious about their next meal. Jesus knew that one small gift, one small offering can change the world. And there was so much leftover that they had to gather it up in dozen of baskets. This is God’s story of how one small gift can become the feeding and healing of a whole community.

Today, I want to remember that no matter how small I might feel or how little I feel I have to offer, one small gesture can make a miracle; one small sharing can change the course of everything. I ask God to help us all be generous in the little, even when we are feeling the least able and the most short of wealth, so that God can work miracles through us ans feed the needy and hungry in our midst.

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