One of the truly great things about the gospels is that they remind us that the disciples are not magically transformed the first time they meet Jesus. It takes time for them to get to know him and slowly begin to understand what he is all about. I imagine that they were pretty chuffed at the end of this long day of ministry. At long last, they were beginning to think and feel like Jesus. They weren’t just super-focussed on themselves. They could actually see the needs of the crowds of people around them. So they are like, Lord, the people are hungry and tired, so send them away to the neighbouring towns and villages and farms so that they can find somewhere to stay and something to eat. I’m sure they were high-fiving each other behind Jesus’s back. We are so onto this whole kingdom thing. YES!
And Jesus is like, okay, let’s take this lot to the next level: Give them something to eat yourselves.
Hang on Lord, we just told you that we’ve only got five loaves and two fish and there are like 5000 men here. What the?!!
But he was there for them. Organise the people into groups of 50 people – which is the perfect size sociologically for this kind of activity – see Robin Dunbar’s new research. So he took their meagre offerings and blessed them and offered them to the Father. Then he broke the bread into fragments and asked the disciples to begin to share the bread and fish with the crowd of people. This would have all taken a while. If there are 50 people in a group, there would have been something like 200 pods (including the women and children). That is a lot of trips for 12 people to make with their baskets of food going out to the edges and back into the centre to have their baskets filled again. And again. And again. It’s such a great model for us. We need to do the little things that we can to share what we have every time we come back to the centre and keep returning out to the edges. This miracle happens in this process of receiving and sharing. Over and over again. And it is so easy to break the chain. If we only come to the centre to be fed ourselves and forget to go out to the edges, then the people are not fed. The broken and hungry and hurting people who don’t hear the good news of the generosity and bounty of God. But as Jesus reminds us at the end of the gospel – every scrap matters. Collect it all so that nothing and no-one gets missed or wasted.
Sunday of the Body and Blood of Jesus, Year C
- First Reading ‡ Genesis 14:18-20
Melchizedek brought bread and wine.
- Responsorial ‡ Psalm 109:1-4
You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
- Second Reading ‡ 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the death of the Lord.
- Gospel ‡ Luke 9:11-17
They all ate and were filled.
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