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Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 15:29–39
After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the maimed, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat, and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” Jesus asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled, and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. After sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan. (NRSV)
This appears to be the second time Jesus healed many and fed thousands while preaching. The Gospels of Mark, Luke, John, and Matthew all describe the first, with the differences being numbers of people fed, amounts of food leftover, and the religious cultures of the people Jesus served. In the first account of 5,000, Jesus is caring for people of his own religious culture—Israelites. In this account of 4,000, Jesus and his disciples have moved into Gentile lands, and Jesus is showing compassion to them.
Jesus preached, and he healed and fed them, knowing he might face disapproval from some of his own religious contemporaries. What stands out for me is that, from a few fish and small loaves of bread, Jesus fed thousands. Also Jesus chose being compassionate to those who were of a different religion and culture than his own.
Today, many lack enough food, adequate health care, quality education, and other basics of life mainly because of their ancestry, culture, or race. These inequities exist despite Jesus teaching us by example that there are no differences. Jesus’ compassion is for all people. Jesus also showed us that there is no actual scarcity. With our Lord, there is always abundance. It is such a blessing that scriptures like this one reassure us of this wonderful grace.
God of compassion and abundance, let your Spirit dwell within us so that we may strive to emulate Jesus’ love, caring, and kindness to all people, regardless of race, color, or family lineage. Let no people lack the needs of their existence. Help us to understand there is no real scarcity. There is always abundance through sharing. Let us know that we all belong to you, Lord God, and to each other. Amen.
Written by Ken Gaines, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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