Today's reading: Mark 6:30-44
Of all the familiar stories, surely this is one of the familiar-est. :) Jesus and the disciples are out in a remote place, teaching, and thousands of people have followed them and are hungry to receive their message. Then dinner time rolls around and they are hungry, full stop. All that can be found are five loaves of bread and two fish, which Jesus blesses and breaks and passes around. And all the people ate plenty, and twelve basketfulls of leftovers were collected up at the end.
Maybe it's all the years of hearing this story and others like it--somehow, though my brain knows that miracles are, well, miraculous, the "feeding a big ol' bunch o' folks" part of this story doesn't amaze me like I suppose it should. What I really find remarkable is the disciples' attitude. At the very beginning of this passage, before the "real" miracle story even begins, the apostles gather around Jesus and report back to him all the healings and teachings they have been doing since he sent them out to their missions. They're tired, and they've been so busy that they haven't had a chance to eat. Jesus invites them: "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
Who among us wouldn't jump at an invitation like that from the Messiah? A quiet place and some rest sounds incredibly good to me today.
So the apostles went with him--but unfortunately, they were followed. And before they even got "there" (wherever "there" was), the crowds had gotten there first. So: no quiet place. No rest.
But Jesus felt compassion for the crowds, and started teaching. And dinnertime came, and everyone was hungry (especially the apostles, no doubt!!). They came to Jesus in concern for the peoples' hunger, and instead of Jesus sending the crowds home to dinner, he instructed the disciples to feed them with the meager helpings of bread and fish they could find.
Honestly, I'm not sure I'd have had the grace the apostles showed. In fact, I know it from personal experience. Craving some peace, a relaxing meal, and some quality time with their teacher, they were willing to let their hopes be invaded by hordes of people aching for a message of love and forgiveness, and for a little dinner. I can't help but think that this alone constitutes "miracle"--and it's one, perhaps, that even I might be able to perform.
when I so desperately need time apart,
help me especially then
to be grace-full in my willingness
to share my time
to be generous
with what little I have to give.
I depend upon you
to take my humble offering
and expand it beyond belief,
to take care of those