Reading the Bible with the eyes of the poor is a different thing from reading it with the eyes of the [one] with a full belly. If it is read in the light of the experiences and hopes of the oppressed, the Bible’s revolutionary themes — promise, exodus, resurrection and Spirit — come alive. The way in which the history of Israel and the history of Christ blend with that of the hungry and oppressed is quite different from the way in which they have often been linked with the history of the mighty and rich.
When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.
The first half of Matthew 14 is a tale of two meals. One is obvious; one is not. Let’s start with the obvious meal, the Feeding of the Multitude.
There are thousands of people in the wilderness. They have come to be where Jesus is. Perhaps we’re like those people, confused about things, wondering if everything will be ok, if we’re stuck in the wilderness, but — we’ve come to be where Jesus is.
Some of us saw the Judean wilderness last year. I wouldn’t like to be out there at night with nothing to eat. It’s not surprising that the disciples came to ask Jesus to send them away so they could find food.
What is surprising is Jesus’ answer: ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’
They know what they’ve got. Five loaves, two fish. It’s not enough. They are living out of a sense of not having enough, a sense of insufficiency, a sense of not-enough-ness. Jesus wants to teach them — and us — to live out of a sense of being enough with Jesus.
Jesus made that small amount feed the multitude. People often get hung up on the ‘how’ question: Is this a creation miracle, did Jesus the living Word of God create enough bread and fish for the crowd? Is it a miracle of sharing, that people brought out the food they’d hidden from others in case they wouldn’t have enough? Is it more a parable in story form?
People come down in different places on the How questions, but these questions don’t matter as much as this: Jesus takes what little we have and multiplies it to feed many others, even to feed people we don’t know and will never meet. Continue reading