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Jan. 8, 2018 - Give Them Some Food Yourselves

Tuesday after Epiphany

Scripture Readings

We celebrated the feast of Epiphany this past weekend, and now today we encounter Jesus multiplying the loaves and fish. It seems like quite a jump. Chronologically, yes but spiritually, perhaps not. We are led from the Magi giving precious gifts to our Lord as an infant, to the adult Jesus teaching his disciples by example how to give what seemingly little they have to God for the service of others. Having heard this gospel passage (Mark 6: 34-44) many times over throughout my life, I was surprised to discover new insights today.

It struck me that Jesus responds to the disciples’ concern for the crowd’s needs by challenging them with, “Give them some food yourselves.” The disciples, being practical and realizing they do not have nearly enough food or money to feed all of the people gathered, advise Jesus to send them off to find or buy food for themselves. I don’t think we can fault the disciples for being practical, realistic. But Jesus has something else in mind: “Give them some food yourselves.” How? Bring what (little) you have to me and I will show you. Then, “…looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves…” and the rest follows, “they all ate and were satisfied.” Jesus took what little they had among them and did not complain, or fret, or realize it was not enough. No, he “said the blessing” and gave, and it was more than enough.

It is not just about Jesus feeding the people, it’s about the disciples (through Jesus) giving what they have to the greater community. Jesus uses what the disciples have, even though seemingly not enough. How often am I skeptical, maybe even stingy with my time, talents, or money, out of the belief or fear that it is not enough? What do I hold back from others, from God, believing it is not enough? The disciples, although perhaps initially skeptical, placed their trust in Jesus. They did as they were instructed and saw how God nourishes and satisfies abundantly.

What if rather than presume, complain, or fret, I give what (little) I have to Jesus and ask him to bless it? What if I take what Jesus has blessed and give it freely with love? What if we as a church community give freely of our gifts? Might everyone benefit from such abundance?

As today’s first reading (John 4:7-10) reminds us, “God is love.” Let us pray for the grace to answer Jesus’ call to bring to him what little we have, trusting God will multiply it abundantly, for God is love and we are called to be that love for others.

~Eileen Miller