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Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Today’s Reading | Mark 8:1–10
In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now 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. (NRSV)
This scripture text is a familiar one, one that is known to us from both the book of Matthew and the book of Mark: the feeding of the 4,000 with only seven loaves of bread and a few fish on hand. What is most striking in this story is the miracle of the loaves itself: that 4,000 were fed and satisfied, given the meager resources available.
There is, however, within that story a subtext that particularly resonates with me. It is the story of Jesus’ understanding that the thousands who had made their way to the seashore to be fed spiritually by seeing him, hearing him speak, and perhaps seeking healing needed more than just spiritual sustenance. They also needed to have their material and physical needs met before they could go forth and do good. As the passage says, Jesus felt compassion for them. He was concerned that they would become faint on the voyage home.
In this passage, we are being asked to do the same, that is to recognize the physical and material as well as the spiritual needs of our families and neighbors and those of the stranger and to respond with acts of hospitality and generosity like those shown by Jesus and his disciples that day at the edge of the Sea of Galilee when they shared all that they had with the multitude and it was enough.
Dear Lord, please help me recognize and understand the needs of others and respond as you did in showing the power of hospitality and generosity to friend and stranger on that day. Amen.
Written by Marilynn J. Cason, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
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