Jesus had been speaking to the crowd about the Kingdom of God, and healing the sick among them. The day was drawing to a close, and the disciples wanted to send the crowd home. They were in a deserted place and Jesus saw the crowds were hungry. The disciples had been given just one meal for about 5000, but Jesus wanted to meet their need.
‘And taking the five loaves and two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twleve baskets of broken pieces.’ Luke 9: 16, 17.
If you are watching the news, you will inevitably see footage of people queueing for food…. in Spain…..and in India……and Africa…… There are food queues everywhere, always have been, and how blessed we are if we have not had to stand in line for a handout. Hunger is like a plague on this planet, caused by poverty and exacerbated by environmental changes and war and disease.
The time that Jesus gave food to the 5000, is such an example of our Lord looking with compassion on the crowds around him, and seeing not just their spiritual paucity, but also their physical hunger. So he fed them, everybody ate plenty and there were leftovers. Twelve baskets full. It must have amazed those people on the hillside; they would not have seen so much food in one place at one time. What an incredible demonstration of the abundance of God.
At the beginning of the 20th century, more than 25% of the population in Europe were living in poverty. Now we are so accustomed to living in a place of plenty, abundance just doesn’t impress us, as it would have those people of the past. So what is it like to be really hungry, day after day? There is a story from the American army, where troops came to liberate Japanese prisoners of war. These men were starving, and were given bread. One man was so thankful to God, that he ate slowly, praising God for every morsel. Of the POWs in his block, he alone survived, as heart failure and organ shutdown took its toll on those who had eaten fast. His gratitude to God literally saved his life.
Covid19 has opened our eyes to see so much in a different light. So many more people queuing for food in situations where we are unable to help. But we are grateful that God has given us the opportunity to share what we have with those around us, by giving foodbanks our support, even if a little is all that can be afforded.
‘If you can’t feed a hundred people,’ said Mother Theresa, ‘then just feed one.’
God bless you as you live, and share, in God’s abundance.