Feeding the Crowds

ImageRead MT 15:29-37

Today the Gospel of Matthew teaches us that Jesus cared about people. He cared especially for the marginalized, the poor, the downcast, and the outsiders. As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee the masses huddled around Him and brought to Him the most broken of society, “the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others,” and in love He healed them–and all who witnessed it gave glory to God.

What happens next is truly remarkable and instructive for us in particular. After using His own hands to heal the broken and downtrodden, our Lord summons His disciples, shares His own sadness about what He sees with them, and then puts them to work. The crowd of thousands has been with Jesus for days and are hungry. Jesus wants to feed these hungry people.

The disciples are probably a lot like us–always focused on the problem with helping, or on our lack of resources, or all the reasons why we simply couldn’t help so many in need. They ask, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” The funny thing is that Jesus knows they have a few loaves and some fish of their own–only seven loaves and a few fish–probably just enough to feed themselves!

He doesn’t say, “Oh, only seven loaves and a few fish? Never mind then. You gotta look out for number one, you know!” He says the reverse. Jesus “took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.” And the crowds ate “and were satisfied.” There were even baskets left over. Our Lord provided in abundance.

The good Lord Jesus fed the hungry because His disciples trusted Him enough to give not out of their abundance, but out of their limited resources! He didn’t ask what “extra” they had. He asked what they had, and with what they had He fed thousands. The cool thing is that Jesus did the miracle but it was with His disciples’ resources and with their own hands. They handed out their loaves. Nothing has changed.

During this Advent season, let us never forget that the needy masses are still there. Jesus still cares about their needs. Jesus still asks His disciples (us) what we have to help those in need. And Jesus still needs us to be His hands and feet to come to their aid. We cannot answer, “But what about me?” when Jesus asks us, “What about them?” Jesus says give me what you have and all will be well.

Trust in Christ. Donate generously to local food banks, the Salvation Army, foster care facilities, emergency medical treatment centers, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and all those who continue to do the work of the Lord. Only then can we be called His disciples. Jesus’ heart went out to them, does yours?