Saturday, July 30, 2011
In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. Mark 8:1-10
There is something about the smell of bread cooking, that stirs the imagination, and the stomach. The smell of yeast bread baking, that rich, ancient and suggestive scent, lingers in our memories, and makes us itch for a taste of a warm slice freshly out of the oven. They say if you want to sell a house, show it with bread baking in the oven. Bread is our common food across the world, the staple that we all return to, no matter what kind of flour we use, no matter our allergies or our diet, we all have some sort of bread that is our tradition, that marks our way of life. We cannot help but smile when fresh bread is introduced to a meal, whether it is a most humble snack by the side of the road or a multiple course repast prepared by renown chefs.
The crowd was hungry and Jesus found a way to feed them all. They had come from so far, were so needy, and desperate for a word of love and hope. AS he blessed them and the bread, somehow they received enough for the road ahead. Somehow they were full and satisfied, renewed and remade for the journey. So many people from so many places and cultures found sustenance and fullness for the days to come. God's activity is always to find ways to give us what we need for the journey, enough food, enough familiar, enough strength to face the challenges that will come.
Today, I ask simply for the bread I need for today, the strength and courage for the road ahead. I pray that we can all rely on a Creator who sustains us to the end, with the sweet taste of bread, the warmth of home and the energy to persevere not matter where we are going, and no matter how far we have to go.