August 6, 2023: Learning

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost


Jesus, having just heard that his cousin, John the Baptist, has been executed, decides to go to a place to get away from the crowds. When we lose one we love, it is pretty normal to want to get away. Often, we avoid other people, and desire to just sit alone with our pain. Frequently those who are grieving express the feeling of being numb to the problems and concerns of others. Since Jesus was human, I assume that he is full of shock, and sadness. So, he goes off in a boat to get away.

When his boat lands, he discovers that a crowd is gathering. Perhaps they think that he can teach them something to make sense of their own broken lives. Maybe they are looking for some healing miracle. In any case, Jesus puts aside his own feelings of loss, in order to minister to the crowd.

As the day wears on, the disciples worry about an evening meal for the crowd and ask Jesus to send the crowd to the nearest village to find food. I think it is fair to say that Jesus is frustrated with his disciples. He tells them to feed the people. I imagine a little sarcasm in his voice.

Or perhaps Jesus has a bigger lesson for his disciples. Maybe he is urging them to put their faith into practice, in order to create a miracle of compassion and generosity within their spirits. That is a “moment of truth” for the disciples. They need to learn that paying lip service to Jesus is not enough. In order to be more effective followers of Jesus, they need to put action to their faith.

Like the disciples, we can learn from this story. Jesus puts aside his own needs and trusts God to multiply what the disciples already have: five loaves and two fish. When we feel the weakest, the saddest, the most fatigued, as if we have nothing left to give others, God helps us find the energy to be attentive to the concerns of the world and crowd around us.

God multiplies our efforts and uses the gifts we already have, so that all are satisfied, all are full, all are valued.

Thanks be to God.

Cynthia O. Campbell, pastor, Mizpah Moravian Church
Tobaccoville, North Carolina