Prepare to listen. Be still and silent. Pray: Help me, O Lord, receive your words in my heart and hear them with my ears so that I can speak them to others. (from Ezekiel 3:10-11)
Read Mark 6:35-44
35 When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; 36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.’ 37 But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?’ 38 And he said to them, ‘How many loaves have you? Go and see.’ When they had found out, they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ 39 Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And all ate and were filled; 43 and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.
When Jesus sent his disciples on their first solo mission he instructed them to ‘take no bread’ for the journey. A few verses later he orders them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ Take no bread…give them bread! Seems a bit contradictory, doesn’t it? I’m not surprised the disciples were astonished and indignantly protest, ‘Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii [about 6 months wages] worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?’ No, that’s not what Jesus meant and so he tries again, ‘How many loaves have you? Go and see.’ This was the first time Jesus gave them an active role while he was there with them. It was new and a continuation of the mission they’d just returned from. They were treated as active participants in the Teacher’s ministry, that feeds the mind with teaching and the body with bread, all in compassion.
Andrew finds a boy with five loaves and two fish; Jesus blessed it and the disciples distributed it to the seated crowd. This imagery of Jesus providing food in a ‘wilderness’ region recalls Ezekiel’s prophecy about God providing abundance in a once barren region (Ezek 34:25-29) through a good shepherd. Here we are given a glimpse of Jesus doing what Ezekiel promised. He’s the Good Shepherd, feeding his people with what was needed to satisfy their hunger. As the Psalmist sang, ‘You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing’ (Ps 145:16).
‘You give them something to eat.’ The command to feed the hungry is still valid and necessary. Who are the hungry in your community today? In what ways can you give them something to eat?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Lord, I know that hunger is a real problem in the world today and even in my community. Help me be alert to those who need bread and to ways I can help them for the sake of your Kingdom. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world following the one who feeds the hungry.