Wednesday 2 December
At that time: Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted ace to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.
I hate crowds. I don’t hate the people in them, but I really don’t like to be in the midst of a lot of people. Today’s Gospel account includes a really large group of people who have come out to see Jesus. And these crowds bring to Jesus a lot of people in need of healing, and Jesus cures them. The results of these miracles cause the crowds to be amazed, and who can blame them?
It also causes them to glorify God, as well they should.
But things are about to get even more astounding as Jesus, moved with compassion, asks his disciples to feed them, for he knows everyone is hungry. Whatever provisions they may have thought to bring along are dwindling if not gone completely. The disciples see this as an impossible request! Of course, Jesus is able to provide more than enough food for the people assembled. Meager offerings feed everyone, with remains of this “satisfying” meal filling seven baskets. 4,000 men were fed. And who knows how many women and children? Matthew doesn’t say, but I’d be willing to bet those people were amazed again, and who can blame them? They glorified God, again, as well they should.
The story illustrates that Jesus is able to do amazing things. We’re reminded to rely on Jesus, even when it doesn’t seem like we have enough: enough strength; time; energy; imagination; love; faith; or hope. Go to Jesus and ask him to bless your finite offering of yourself, and he will make that offering sufficient for the task at hand. You will be amazed. You will glorify God when you realize that he provides not only an adequate amount of what you lacked, but there’s some left over, too. That’s what the grace of God can do.