The Gospel according to Mark (8:14-21)
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread,
and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod.”
They concluded among themselves that
it was because they had no bread.
When he became aware of this he said to them,
“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”
They answered him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”
They answered him, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
When we looked at today’s Gospel, the one image that came to both of us was of how abundant God is in blessing us, but how we ourselves are the ones who limit how much blessing we receive. In Mark’s story today, we see that the Apostles were so focused on their own need, they did not realize that the source of all blessing was right there beside them. But, when we are aware of the possibility of being greatly blessed, then we can truly receive.
Some years ago, Chuck was laid off from his job. It could have been very traumatic for us (and it was definitely a challenge to our faith), but we wound up being blessed so much. We truly had to turn to God to provide for all of our needs during the time that Chuck was job-hunting. But, we discovered how many things we could actually do without and still be perfectly content. We trusted in God to get us through, and through His wisdom, we were able to tighten our belts and make it until Chuck was able to get another job. It would have been so easy for us to have been caught up in self-pity that we would have never noticed the possibility of blessing. In the end, it strengthened our faith in so many ways.
The questions that Jesus asks His Apostles at the end of today’s readings are good reminders to us. I mean, Jesus fed five thousand with just five loaves and wound up with twelve baskets of leftovers. How could the Apostles not think that Jesus would take care of them with the one loaf they had brought? God truly wants to bless us more abundantly than we can ever imagine. There is an ocean of blessing waiting for us. Would that we could trust in that abundance for any times that we feel we are in lack, and know that God will not fail to fill our needs. May each of us be a source of sharing that abundance today, and do our small part to bring Jesus’ light and love to a world that needs both so much.
Action for the Day: If you can, share something with another who is needy. Donate to a food pantry or charity taking in used clothing or other items. Going through your own closet or garage may show you just how much you have and any of your items you don’t really need can make the day of someone who is in need.
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