Monday, March 27
John 6: 1-15
Jesus’ feeding of the multitude with just
five barley loaves and two fish is the
only one of his miracles that is de-
scribed in all four Gospels. It was a story of such significance to the early Church that it was shared and emphasized as widely as possible!
Perhaps it is because feelings of anxiety in the face of scarcity are such a universal human experience. John’s Gospel describes a situation in which a large crowd is following Jesus and his disciples. As Jesus sees the mass of needy people approaching them rapidly, he asks Philip, one of the disciples, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” Another disciple, Andrew, observes that there is a boy in the crowd with five loaves and two fish. It is obviously apparent that any food that they have won’t cover the situation.
But Jesus is not simply asking for an inventory of their food sup- plies; he is teaching the disciples who he is in the face of overwhelm- ing circumstances. When Jesus tells the disciples to make the people sit down, the language evokes Psalm 23 and the image of a shepherd who makes the sheep “lie down in green pastures.” And after giving thanks, Jesus distributes the loaves and fish, which have become more than enough. Jesus identifies himself as both the good shepherd and the host of an abundant banquet that defies all reason.
When we are faced with situations in which we feel anxious, what is our first reaction? It is often to focus upon the limitations of our circumstances.
What would it mean during Lent to make prayer our starting point in the face of our anxieties? When you are anxious, take some time to focus upon the image of Jesus as the good shepherd, who invites you to trust in his provision; see how it changes the way that you pray for your own needs, and the needs of the world.
— THE REV. MICHELLE BAKER-WRIGHT
Rev. Michelle is the Senior Associate for Christian Education at Saint James’.