Passage for Reflection: Mark 6:30-44
Jesus feeds five thousand people
30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. 31 Many people were coming and going, so there was no time to eat. He said to the apostles, “ Come by yourselves to a secluded place and rest for a while. ” 32 They departed in a boat by themselves for a deserted place.
33 Many people saw them leaving and recognized them, so they ran ahead from all the cities and arrived before them. 34 When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things.
35 Late in the day, his disciples came to him and said, “ This is an isolated place, and it’s already late in the day . 36 Send them away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something to eat for themselves. ”
37 He replied, “ You give them something to eat. ”
But they said to him, “ Should we go off and buy bread worth almost eight months’ payg and give it to them to eat? ”
38 He said to them, “ How much bread do you have? Take a look. ”
After checking, they said, “ Five loaves of bread and two fish. ”
39 He directed the disciples to seat all the people in groups as though they were having a banquet on the green grass. 40 They sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them, broke the loaves into pieces, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 Everyone ate until they were full. 43 They filled twelve baskets with the leftover pieces of bread and fish. 44 About five thousand had eaten.
I definitely empathize with the disciples in this story. First Jesus sent them out in pairs to teach and heal people. When the disciples finally got back to Jesus, they were excited to share with him all they had done and seen. However, there were so many people around, the 13 could not enjoy a meal and tell their stories. Jesus tried to find a secluded area so the disciples could rest, but the crowds followed them.
In classic form, Jesus saw that the crowd was spiritually lost and he began to teach. The disciples were clearly frustrated when Jesus told them to feed the crowd of 5000. How were they to do that? Weren’t they in a secluded place, far from a town or market? And who exactly was going to pay for all of this?
The disciples missed the point and it makes me wonder if we are still missing the point today. Yes- Jesus could have sent the crowds away so he and his disciples could share stories and a meal. But that wasn’t the point of his ministry. It occurs to me that perhaps helping those who are hungry and in need of spiritual guidance is more important than one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Holy and loving God, help me recognize the loaves and the fish that I should be offering to others instead of keeping to myself. Amen.