Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
August 3, 2014
This story of the feeding of the five thousand contains a curious detail easily overlooked: “They gathered up the leftovers.” Why did Jesus show such concern for leftovers, the broken pieces? The birds would have eaten them. Was Jesus collecting them for distribution to the poor? If so, Scripture is silent.
Could it be that this ingathering has more to teach us of how bountiful was the supply of bread and fish that Jesus offered, or how the leftovers could feed others? I don’t know what Jesus was thinking, but I know what I think, and I am inclined to believe that perhaps it was at least part of what Jesus may have had on his heart.
Jesus was a lover of leftover people, and still is. He gathered to himself the outcasts: the poor, the despised, the demon possessed or mentally ill, prostitutes and tax collectors, the blind and the lame,
lepers and Gentiles. He offered them comfort, affirmation, and healing. None of them was disposable to Christ. None of them was to be treated as if thrown in the dumpster or left behind as birdfeed. They were precious to him, and he knew they needed him.
Do you ever feel like a leftover, a broken piece of a person because of a physical or mental injury of disease, loneliness, or the burden of a past sin? Do you feel the same way you did in grade school, when you were always the last picked for the team, a leftover? Christ’s arms and heart are open to you, and he longs to gather you to himself so that you might feel loved.
Are there leftovers in your church, school, family, or community to whom Christ is leading you, that you might offer your love and his?
Richard Bruckart, pastor, First Moravian Church, Riverside, NJ