Twilight Twitches

Dear Family,
Today our parish commemorates Bread for the World Sunday. The following article provides food for thought on the issue of hunger. I offer it for your reflection.

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The feeding of the 5,000 is one of the few accounts of Jesus' teaching that is included in all four of the gospels. In all cases, it is the men who are counted. Including the women and children vastly multiplies the impact of what Jesus does for this crowd of people. Beyond the multiplying of loaves and fishes, however, Jesus teaches an im¬portant lesson about the nature of the kingdom of God.

In Luke 9:10-17, the story follows the commissioning of the twelve disciples to go out on their own to do ministry. The disciples return to share with Jesus what they had done. Jesus and the disciples head to the city of Bethsaida to get away for some private time. The crowds find out where Jesus is, and they follow him. The text tells us that "he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured" (Luke 9:11). Jesus was truly a teacher and pastor.

The arc of Luke's gospel focuses on Jesus as the one who cared for the least among them: the poor, the sick, the women, and others marginalized in this 1st century culture. They needed Jesus' teaching, they needed healing, and Jesus always had enough for those who sought what he had to give.

On this particular day, the disciples encourage Jesus to send the crowd away to find food in a near¬by village. The ability to provide that much food is, the disciples think, more than they have. But Jesus tells them, "You give them something to eat." The disciples reply that they have only five loaves and two fish.

Instead of waving a magic wand or raising his hand to say "eat and be filled," Jesus blesses the food, then tells the disciples to distribute it.

Surely, more than one of the disciples were skeptical about the outcome. However, they do not with¬hold what they have. They give it to Jesus and allow it to be used by him. They distributed what he has blessed to the gathered people.

And, as we know, the people were not only all fed until they were full, but there were many baskets of food left over.

Most of us think of this story as a miracle of abundance, Jesus multiplying the five loaves and two fish. But New Testament scholar John Dominic Cros-san invites us to look at this story as a parable - a story using familiar scenarios and understandings to teach us about what Jesus proclaimed as the kingdom of God. Jesus invited the people to imagine what it might look like in a society where all gave and all shared in God's abundance.

What could our world be like if we allowed Jesus to not only bless our resources, but also to bless and guide the means of distribution of the world's resources? What if we were each willing to give of what we had so there might be enough - even abundance - for all? Not wealth for all, but enough for all: food on the table, clothes in the closet, safe and affordable housing, healthcare, accessi¬ble education, safety on our streets and in neighbor¬hoods.

But what keeps us from walking into this vision of the kingdom of God?

Our society has conditioned us to believe that re-sources are scarce. You are told that, if you don't have enough, it is because you are not working hard enough. In God's creation, however, we see the abundance of all that we need.

The early Christians lived by collecting what everyone had and distributing according to each one's need. As we trust in the abundance of God's love, we allow Jesus to bless and direct how we use the resources God has given. Then there is enough! More than enough!

Rev. Teresa Hord Owens is general minister and president of the Chris¬tian Church (Disciples of Christ). Prior to her election, she was dean of students at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

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