MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on What we should do with all of our stuff. How does the Feeding of the Five Thousand give us insight on how to live our lives? Please read Matthew 14:13-21.
For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 7/31/2011The 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 14:13-21.
Jesus is the Lord. He gives us abundance out of his compassion. He wants us to give from that abundance to others.
Whenever I read the story of the “Feeding of the Five Thousand” as we like to call it, I am amazed by the magnitude of the event. Here are these people who cannot get enough of this guy Jesus that when they hear of him leaving across a lake, they follow him on the land. They take the long way around to see him and hear him. They come after Jesus to be fed spiritually, but he surprises them. Not only does he feed them spiritually, he provides for their physical well being.
The magnitude of the whole event is incredible. Matthew makes the point of telling us that there were “five thousand men not counting the women and children.” Well, let’s see, if you count two thirds of those men as being married and having the normal number of children for that age, which is four, then we would have, oh, a bunch. So, if we were to be more accurate, we would call this the “Feeding of the More than Five Thousand.”
Anyway, it is interesting to read the commentaries on this subject. The New Interpreter’s Bible recalls how the scholars of the twentieth century have interpreted this “miracle story.” One “high-powered scholar” said that the miracle is one of sharing. It is one where the disciples share what meager means they have brought and it shames everyone else into sharing what they would have otherwise horded. Now, before we scoff at this guy, I want to ask you, how many here believe that the feeding of the five thousand could really happen here and now?
We doubt it could happen because of our need to use ourselves as the experimental mean. We tend to think that if we cannot do it, then it is not possible. I would have never thought it possible that a butterfly could be caught by its wings until my oldest, when he was four years old, brought one to me with its wings between his little chubby fingers. He has done this several times since that time. We are just being plain silly if we think that Jesus is constrained by his humanity. Jesus is, after all, both human and divine. Please open up your Bibles to the first four verses of the Gospel of John. Please pause the audio to do so.
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. The Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.”
Moving on to verse 14:
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”
Jesus is the Word of God. He is the Second Person of the Trinity who was with God and who is God. Through the Second Person of the Trinity all things were made. Genesis says that God created by speaking. We believe that he spoke the divine Word, the Word who later became flesh and dwelt among us, the one and the same Jesus. He is human, yes, but we must not forget that he is the One True God!
Who of us knows what the term “ex nihilo” means? For Christians it holds incredible significance. “Ex nihilo” means “out of nothing.” This is what the heavens and the earth were created out of, out of nothing! Through the Word “all things came into being.” Look around you. Everything you see was created either directly through him, or through things which were created through him, out of nothing. There is nobody nowhere who can take nothing and make something. That is, unless that “no body” is God.
So, if this Jesus is the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and all things were made through the Word, then why is it so hard for us to imagine that Jesus would take five loaves of bread and two fish and feed five thousand plus people? We don’t need to make excuses for the human nature of Jesus. We don’t need to judge the acts of Jesus based upon our ability to feed five thousand people. Jesus can feed and does feed people out of nothing. He is Lord and there isn’t anything anywhere that could cause him so much angst that his ability would be altered.
But it should cause us to wonder why One so powerful, so majestic through all the earth, who made the whole world project, would even mess with us. Why would he even want to become one of us? Open up your Bibles to Matthew Chapter 14, verse 14:
“When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.”
There it is! There it is! The mystery of the universe! Right there in black and white. “He had compassion for them.” When will we stop playing games with God and understand that the underlying understanding of God is to have compassion on the creatures he created? The Divine Disposition is to look upon us and be filled with mercy and compassion. Out of his compassion he gives abundantly. He heals the sick, raises the dead, feeds the hungry, and sets the captives free from their sin. Even for those who are poor and live on the streets, when they discover that God is interested in them, that God wants them to know he loves them, that is abundance in itself. They are valued, they are wanted, and they are sought after like a lover seeks the beloved.
Just look around at all the stuff we have. Don’t we know that all things we have are given to us by the Lord. They have to be, because all things are what was made through him, or are made from what was created through him.
Just look at your church buildings. They are usually beautiful. Nice carpeting or flooring, nice pews, they are lovely works of art in and of themselves. Look at the Parish halls, they are spacious and comfortable. Look at the Religious Education wings of our churches; they are well kept and pleasing to the eye. Yes, look around and see that it is all abundance. We do not need beautiful church buildings to worship. We could do so in caves, catacombs or small house churches like the early Christians. We do not need spacious parish halls and we could make it without our religious education wings. Look at Africa where the Church is growing. They don’t have any of that stuff. It is all abundance. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.
What use is all this abundance if we only use the buildings on Sunday mornings and a couple of nights a week? That would be plain old selfishness for us to horde our buildings for ourselves. Just as the disciples were taught that five loaves and two fish were abundantly sufficient for us, that it was enough to feed themselves and five thousand plus, how many can we feed here?
Take a look at verse nineteen in Matthew,
“And after making the crowd to lie down on the grass, while taking the five loaves of bread and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, blessed the bread and after breaking he gave some to his disciples, and the disciples gave it to the crowd.
It is the same thing in our churches today. We have been given abundance. In the bread and cup of Communion, we will be given the abundant encounter with Jesus. What good is all this abundance if we horde it for ourselves? What good is the Eucharist if it is not eaten or if we have a nice building if it is not shared with the world? The scriptures say, “he gave bread to the disciples, and the disciples gave it to the crowd.” So it should be with all of our earthly possessions. He gave to us and we give to others.
Jesus is the Lord. He gives us abundance out of his compassion. He wants us to give to others. Amen? Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of MySpiritualAdvisor.com and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of MySpiritualAdvisor.com, LLC. MySpiritualAdvisor.com, 2011.