Providing for our need not our greed – Saturday, 5th week in ordinary time- Mark 8: 1-10
Jesus is in the region of the Decapolis or the ten cities. He is in Gentile territory and has already worked two public miracles; for the Syrophonecian woman and for the deaf man. Unlike a rolling stone that gathers no moss, Jesus is moving and as He does he is gathering a large number of Gentile followers. All this must have brought a big smile to Mark’s Gentile Christians as they read the ‘Good News’; they too were welcomed by Jesus.
For three days, four thousand disciples (read men in this text) of Jesus have been following Him. They have not eaten any earthly bread but have been feeding on Jesus, ‘the bread of life’. Jesus is fully aware that while He has nourished them with His Word (as He does when we read or hear His Word) they hungered too for bread that would nourish their bodies.
The words of our compassionate Jesus, is the benchmark for every clergyman, every Christian community and every person of good will. Christ does not want to ‘send the people home hungry for they might faint on the way.’ He was aware of the great distance they had traversed just to be with Him, just to hear the Master’s voice. Their need now was bread and they had uttered not a word of protest at the lack of it.
It is amusing, if not amazing to see the incredulity of the disciples. They who had seen the miracle of the feeding of five thousand in Jewish territory in Chapter 6, they who had picked twelve baskets of broken pieces of fish and bread now ask the Lord “ How can we feed these people with bread here in the desert?”
I have often reflected on the great pain that Jesus must have endured even with those whom He loved. Time and time again He had to explain His mission and yes His very self to the disciples. They who had seen more miracles than one sees the stars were yet left staring, by their own lack of faith, at a moonless night . But our Lord did not give up on them.
Jesus begins from where we are. He began with what they had to offer. “How many loves do you have” is a question He asked them and He asks us. Don’t tell me what you don’t have, tell me what you do and let me work the miracle with you.
He worked the miracle for them and the result was that they had scraps that filled seven baskets. Make no mistake; these seven baskets were not some grocery bags of the modern world. The word for basket in this text is spuris, which were platted red baskets used for commercial goods. Jesus is more than compassionate. He made sure they and we have enough and more for our needs and not our greed.
Fr Warner D’Souza