Sunday, August 2nd, Pentecost IX, Feeding the Five Thousand
Genesis 32:22-31. Psalm 17: 1-7, 16, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:13-21
Herbert O’Driscoll reminds us of the similarities between the reading in Genesis and in Matthew today.
That both Jacob and Jesus head off to be alone to pray. Jacob goes off alone to prepare himself for an unavoidable encounter with his brother, Esau, from whom he stole his birthright. Jesus takes time alone to mourn after hearing of John the Baptist’s death.
We know Jacob stayed and received an answer and satisfaction, even though he now limped. It seems Jesus does not get the time to pray alone and mourn at all, as when he gets ashore the crowd is there waiting.
The implication seems to be; we are fortunate to be followers of Jesus Christ, not Jacob. We are able to call on God at all times and God will answer, not always the way we would like, but not be ignored.
But let us think of what it means to follow………
Does it mean to be like Jacob and take all we can from God? That our time of prayer is only for us and what we hope to gain or avoid? Or is there something about following Jesus not only because of the benefit, but as a model for us to follow?
I am aware of the irony about Jesus trying to be alone and sacrificing this for crowd in need, and so many of us not being able to gather with a crowd and are spending more time alone. But all of that is the part we play to follow Jesus.
It has been said that God acts, but not alone, that we are God’s hands and feet to answer the prayers of others.
Who had a part to play in the drama that is the Gospel for today? Jesus is the obvious answer, and the five thousand men, and the women and children who received the food, (a whole other sermon).
In this version and in Mark and Luke, it is the disciples who suggest Jesus send the crowd to the villages to buy food and then say they have only five loaves and two fish. In John’s Gospel, John 6:1-14, it is Andrew who says; there is a boy with five loaves and two fish.
Are there times when we are asked to provide the equivalent of the loaves and fish? It may be to help provide physical food, or it may be food of another kind which helps others in their journey of faith.
And it may be doing what we need to do to keep others and ourselves safe.