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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Today’s Reading | Mark 6:30–46

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” 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?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 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. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray. (NRSV)

“You give them something to eat.”

The disciples are worried about the crowds Jesus had attracted. The turnout exceeded their wildest projections. This overflowing crowd should have sparked joy given the number of people hungry for fellowship and called to see Jesus. The disciples frame this as a problem to Jesus: “This is an isolated place, and it’s already late in the day. Send them away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something to eat for themselves.”

The disciples assume that Jesus is not aware of his surroundings or the issues associated with the care and nourishment of those that traveled to see him. The disciples are overwhelmed and feel powerless to address this situation. Jesus responds, “You give them something to eat.”

I’m struck that Jesus turns this challenge back to the disciples. He encourages the disciples to gather what they have, because they have the resources to address the hunger of the crowds. Ultimately their five loaves and two fish, combined with Jesus, leads to “Everyone ate till they were full.”

When faced with a challenge in which my projections are off and the numbers seem overwhelming, I hope I can look to others for support and collectively we can use our gifts to make a difference.

Dear gracious Lord, hear our prayers and concerns about the problems we see in our community and across the globe. Help us to work with others to unleash our gifts and talents to nourish those in need. Amen.

Written by Ranjan Daniels, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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