I can’t get my head around the story of the feeding of the five thousand. This is the only miracle recorded in all four canonical gospels of Jesus. Even collating the different accounts there are many details missing. It forces one to look simple at what the individual writer provides in order to figure our what point that writer wanted to make.
For Matthew it seems to be the giving when we feel we have little to give and the return on it. Matthew relates that Jesus was rejected in his hometown of Nazareth. Then he notes that Jesus had just heard that his cousin John, whom we call John the Baptizer, had been beheaded by King Herod. He tries to go away somewhere to be alone for a while. Crowds of people figure out where he is going and arrange to be there.
We can only guess what was going through Jesus mind and heart when he heard about John’s death, but we could certainly relate to feelings of grief. There also must have been a concern about whether or not he would live long enough to make a difference in this world. As much as he did for the crowds they must have done something for him. They certainly conveyed how important he was to them. He learned that he truly did make a difference in their lives.
As much as we may like to be admired for some great accomplishment, it is even better to know that in some way, large or small, we filled someone else’s need. It is the moments of shared vulnerability that create the tender but strong bonds that keep us from unraveling. People who spend some of their vacation time in servant work ministries like Habitat for Humanity or Hurricane Relief know the awesome feeling when in some small way God’s love has been revealed through them.
A surprising remedy for feeling down and empty is to give.