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 worth of bread would not be enough 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 was eleven when she was sent on her own to relatives in the East. It was the height of the Dust Bowl and family things were not good. She was afraid but brave, a little Cherokee girl on her own. She made her way across the country from Oklahoma to New York on more than a dozen buses. I don't know if it was this episode or many others, but she dedicated her life to the care and feeding of children, both her own and others. She understood that there was plenty when we are willing to share what we have and serve those who otherwise might be lost.
The feeding of the five thousand, along with the small loaves and few fish are so ingrained in us from Sunday School that we barely hear the depth of the story. It is about a miracle, but even more, it is about the capacity of one small child to offer, a group of people to be fed, and abundance beyond imagining for folks who might otherwise go without. God is for the gathered crowd, the little boy, and for those who haven't come forward yet...the ones who might otherwise be lost, the ones who are unseen in our selfish narratives, our self-satisfied society, and along life's highways. There are more to be fed, and more to be shared. God offers us all joy as we gather up and share for those who might otherwise be lost.
Today I ask God to help me see those who are unseen, to reach out to the voiceless and those who hide in the shadows. May God's hunger for justice be our hunger, may God's need to touch the untouchables be our need, and may we gather up whatever we have so that nothing, and no one is lost.