Scripture: Mark 6:30-46
Key verse: (38) “How many loaves have you?”
Reflection: Do you ever find yourself worn out by the demands of life? Sometimes the needs for your time and attention can be incredibly overwhelming. When you add to that the challenges facing our community, our state, our nation, and even our world, it can lead to exhaustion and exacerbation. There are bills to pay, events to attend, teams to register for, deadlines to meet, reports to be done. The list is endless. Add to that the challenges facing our community: lack of opportunity for children in poverty, need for affordable housing, re-segregation of public schools, inequity between “The Wedge & The Crescent.” And what about the challenges facing the nation? Political polarizations, racial tensions, economic opportunity for the rural poor, evaporation of the middle class, wealth disparity the likes of which has not existed since the roaring 20’s. It’s overwhelming.
In today’s reading, the disciples have returned from their first successful missionary journey. They’ve been casting out demons, healing the sick, and proclaiming the good news. They want to tell Jesus all about it. Jesus suggests they take a retreat—get away from it all for a while.
Unfortunately they can’t get away. The crowds continue to come. The needs continue to present themselves. Problems persist that demand their attention. Jesus is not overwhelmed by the people or the problems they bring; rather, he has compassion for them. His steadfast love endures forever. The apostles, on the other hand, seem worn out. They’re trying to put an end to the day by having Jesus send the people away so they can get home for supper. In response, Jesus says, “You give them something to eat.”
At this point, the apostles lose it. “What do you think, Jesus, that we’re made of money? You want us to go out and by $25,000 worth of food for these 5,000 people?” Can you blame them? I’ve been there. You’re doing the best you can, and the needs just keep coming and you’re at your wits’ end, overwhelmed by the problems. How does Jesus respond?
“What do you have?” he asks. He calls them not to focus on what they lack, but rather on what they have. They don’t have much in the face of the demand. “Five loaves and two fish,” they answer. They offer what they have to Jesus, and Jesus takes their offering and turns it into a feast for 5,000, with 12 baskets of leftovers.
What a wonderful model for us. In the face of overwhelming challenges when all we do can feel like a drop in a leaky bucket, what would it mean to take inventory of what we have, what we can do, what we can offer. Then see what Jesus can do with it.
Prayer: In the face of life’s demands, O God, help us to see not what we lack, but what we have. Give us faith to offer ourselves and let you take it from there. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].