Five Loaves and Two Fish of Peace

The Bible reading for Sunday comes from Matthew 14:13-21. It tells of Jesus feeding a huge number of people who had gathered to be healed of their sicknesses. Jesus was hit hard emotionally. He had been rejected by the people of his hometown of Nazareth when he taught and preached the gospel to them. Then he was told about his cousin, John the Baptizer, being beheaded because of an insidious prank played on Herod Antipas by his wife's daughter, Herodias.

The crowds of sick people had already been listening to Jesus earlier in chapter 13 as he taught them in a boat because there were so many. After healing the ailments of the people who came to him, the disciples wanted to send all the people away and get Jesus back to rest presumably, so they planned to send them off to get some food in the surrounding villages and prepare for the night's sleep they needed for their families.

Jesus was not having it, saying "You give them something to eat."" Matthew's account mentioned that the disciples said, "We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish." The gospel writer John's account of the feeding of the 5,000 told of a boy who had five barley loaves and two fish to offer them. I will add that bit of information to Matthew's account for this week.

In Jesus' time, wheat, not barley, was the grain of choice for those who had a good amount of wealth to make a living. So the offering from the boy was an offering he and his family made out of their need, not out of their abundance, but definitely through their obedience. No matter if the loaves of bread were barley or not, they had so little food facing the massive hunger of so many people.

We are in the same situation today. In part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in a larger part due to a history of systemic poverty made more acute through systemic racism and a world-view that scarcity is the norm, not our faith in the abundance of God's love and favor for us.

We are serving in God's church and we want to do what we can to help the people in our communities to overcome their economic hardships, threats to their housing, the deficits to maintaining the basic necessities of life, and to teach and nurture them as people who look to God as their eternal hope, help, and a strong haven from the ills and problems of this world. All are a response to Jesus' command to the disciples saying, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat."

As we each read these words, let us allow them to ignite or revive our reliance on God to give us the help to overcome the hardships that we all are facing and then spread the abundance of grace to others who need it just as much as we do, giving them genuine peace in a time of unrest and uncertainty.

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