Feeding the 5000

The Gospel Reading for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12 Year B, is an account of Jesus feeding the five thousand at the site today identified as Tabgha, by the Sea of Galilee (John 6: 1-21). John points out a) that it was close to the feast of Passover and b) that Jesus asked Philip where they could buy bread for the crowd.

It was a difficult question for the disciples. It would cost the equivalent of six months wages to buy enough bread for the crowd! To show how dire the situation was, Andrew pointed at “five barley loaves and two fish” in the possession of a little boy. What could that do; or why even bother?

Yet, Jesus knew what he was going to do. He multiplied the little that they had to abundance.

Like the disciples, often we only see scarcity. The root cause of hoarding and accumulation – so prevalent in consumerism – is the fear or perception of scarcity. We are afraid what we have will not carry us through, it will run out before the day is over. The truth is that the Universe is self-sustaining, that there is enough of everything to go around.

God has provided all we need for life. If we were compassionate enough and shared what is already available there would be enough for everyone and, even as in the Gospel, enough left overs. Indeed, when John narrates this story in the context of the Passover, the latter brings to mind God providing manna from heaven to feed the Israelites during their sojourn in the wilderness.

So, there is enough; only fear and greed drive us into wanting more and more and even not trusting God. In the First Reading for this Sunday (2 Samuel 11: 1-15) David not only commits adultery with Bathsheba, but orders the murder of her husband and faithful servant Uriah. Indeed, we can say that David already had everything he needed – as the prophet Nathan later chastised him – but he wanted even more and that led him to sin.

Let us pray that daily we will be guided to appreciate God’s abundance and not be distracted by the fear and perception of scarcity.


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