Questions for a Picnic

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 55:1-5
Romans 8:35-39 OR 9:1-5
Matthew 14:13-21

What does is mean to be fed, to not know when or how our bodily needs will be met, yet to wait in confidence that food will come? How do we grow so confident of being fed – and fed well – that we follow Christ into the desert? What do we learn from having our dependence on the grace and love of another made so obvious, so public?

Why was the story of the feeding of the five thousand (“not counting women and children”) so important to the early church that it appears in all four gospels, with a reprise – for four thousand – in Mark and Matthew? What are we to learn from such unexpected abundance? Why are being taught and being fed central acts of Christian worship?

What’s the real miracle here: that Jesus makes food appear from nowhere, that strangers shared food they’d hidden in their clothes, or something else? Does the question even matter?

What truths of this story are lost to those of us who live in an economy of anonymous, industrial food production, labyrinthine supply chains, warehouse-sized groceries, and ubiquitous fast food outlets? Where is the Christian witness in a country that generates 36 million tons of food waste every year while others across the planet go hungry? That tells hungry children found in the desert that we have nothing to spare?

What does is mean to feed others, to see and respond to need even while weeping at your own losses, as Jesus mourned the death of John the Baptist? How does anyone look at the impossibility of feeding so many and confidently say, “We will feed them anyway?” What does it require to trust flawed people like the twelve disciples to carry out an impossible task?

What do we do with twelve baskets of leftovers? Leave them in the desert? Appoint a committee to study the matter?

Who feeds you? How do they do it?

Whom do you feed? With what? How gladly?

What are we waiting for?

One Response to “Questions for a Picnic”

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  1. I love it that every sentence in this reflection is a question.

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