Lenten Reflection - Mark 8:1-10 by Maryann Philbrook
8 During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” 4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” 5 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied. 6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.” Mark 8:1-10
I have been struggling with feeling inadequate. I know it is a struggle that many face every day. Am I good enough? Does my life make a difference? Do I have enough to support myself? How will I make it through this month?
The first thing that struck me about this passage is that Jesus does not give these disciples anything. He calls their attention to a problem: people are hungry. He then takes the resources that they already have (seven loaves and two fish) and turns exactly what they have into an abundance. This abundance, literally, gives life to a multitude of people.
The disciples are feeling inadequate. I can imagine them looking around and saying to each other: “We might have just enough to feed us and Jesus, but there’s no way we can do much for everyone else. They’re not Jesus’ disciples so we should just tell them to get on their way and find food wherever they can. We don’t have enough to give.”
Jesus helps them to recognize the need. In my imaginary dialogue he tells them: “These people will faint of hunger on their way home. Precisely because you are my disciples and they are still learning what it means to be a disciple is why you need to take care of them. Fear cannot stop you.”
The disciples were afraid that what they had was not enough. But Jesus blessed them when they brought everything forward. What is more amazing is that when they gave everything to Jesus what he gave back to them was even more. They had seven full baskets instead of seven loaves.
My fear of inadequacy often prevents me from offering Jesus all of the bread and fish that I have. Knowing that the disciples were freed from this inadequacy by Jesus’ blessing encourages me to follow in their footsteps. My prayer for us this Lent is that we can begin to give Jesus everything so that Jesus can transform our inadequate supplies into an overabundance that gives life to the multitudes.