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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Today’s Reading | Matthew 15:29-39

After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” Jesus asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. After sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan. (NRSV)

When I was a kid, trick-or-treating together meant my brother and I ended up with pretty much identical stashes of candy. Each day after that, we got to choose one or two items to eat. I loved to hoard away the prize morsels. My brother’s strategy was different: eat the best stuff first, worry about the rest later. When his best candy was gone, he’d start eyeing mine, complaining to our parents that, “Hardy isn’t sharing.” But why was it my problem that he hadn’t planned ahead?

It’s hard to understand or to believe Jesus’ miracle stories, including the feeding narratives. We’ll never be able to confirm or dismiss the details of a story where Jesus feeds several thousand people with seven loaves and a few fish. But we can be sure of this: when you’re stuck with barely enough to take care of your own needs, your first impulse isn’t to give up what little you have to help out those who haven’t planned ahead.

This is what Jesus and his disciples do. They take stock of the little that we have and then, in spite of their own need, offer it up so the people might be comforted. You and I can both sit in front of our computers, considering this challenge in the context of hunger, housing, health care, education, security, and so many other issues in our world today—and we can tell ourselves why the example of this story makes no practical sense. Still, Jesus and the disciples, who gave up their food in the face of their own hunger and who fed thousands, urge us to see different possibilities. If we can set aside our realistic views of the world long enough to consider those possibilities, maybe that would be miracle enough for today.

Holy God, in Jesus Christ you came and took compassion on us. And in him you withheld nothing from us, not even your own life. Help us, who seek to follow Jesus, to stop clinging so tightly to the little that we have. Make us more compassionate toward the needs of others, so that we might give to one another freely and participate in your ministry of miracles. Amen.

Written by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor for Evangelism

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