Think about the last time you were really hungry. How long had it been since your last meal? Three hours? Seven hours? The crowd described in Mark’s Gospel hadn’t eaten in three days. Imagine — hear their grumblings. Feel their distress.
Christ was in tune with the needs of the famished crowd, so in tune that his heart was moved. His heart was moved. The surge of compassion Jesus felt for his people didn’t stay inside. The movement in his heart led Christ to act — and the result was spectacular. With five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus fed all 5,000 hungry people. These Scripture pages are filled with bread and fish. They just keep multiplying!
Feelings of empathy, shock and even anger can be the driving sparks that ignite action. Like Jesus, we too can do an amazing amount of good in our ministry today. But our hearts need to be moved first.
Join Seeing the Word this Lenten season as we take a prayerful look into the ministry of Jesus Christ through the lens of The Saint John’s Bible. The weekly posts will feature either a prayer or reflection paired with an illumination. All content was written by Jessie Bazan, M.Div. candidate.
Illumination: © Donald Jackson, 2002 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Credit: Multiplication of The Loaves and Fishes, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, Copyright 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
A Reflection on Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes (Mark 6:33-44, 8:1-10)
Bailey Walter, M.Div.
In Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ heart is moved by a group of people who are hungry. Upon receiving the request to let the people go and buy food, Jesus tells his disciples to feed them. With five loaves and two fish, Jesus and his disciples feed the crowd. This beautiful illumination captures the multiplication of the loaves and fishes with its abundance of gold and color that consumes much of the page, alluding to the abundance at the divine banquet. Today, our world contains a much larger crowd of hungry people than the 5,000 that Jesus encounters in this story; close to one billion people go hungry each day.
In his Message for World Food Day in 2013, Pope Francis called world hunger a global scandal. Many of us who live in developed countries view food as a luxury and have access to it in abundance. Catholic Social Teaching and Pope Francis remind us that the primary function of food is to nourish our bodies and sustain life. Food is a basic human right for all people. We each have a responsibility to heed Jesus’ instructions that he gave to his disciples when he said, “You give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37). There are many ways in which we can help: participation in a local food shelf, getting involved with national relief efforts such as Catholic Relief Services, and being conscious of personal food consumption and waste, just to name a few. How will you respond to Jesus’ call to feed the crowd?
Baily Walter, M.Div. is the assistant for formation and outreach at the School of Theology and Seminary at Saint John’s University. A recent graduate of the School of Theology and Seminary, Bailey served as a graduate assistant for the Seeing the Word project and Lifelong Learning. She now directs a project on Economic Challenges Facing Church Ministers.