Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to His disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. Mark 6:41-44
“The words sound familiar do they not? His prayer consists in the four big verbs of Holy Communion: “He took, He blessed, He broke, He gave.” Jesus takes the ordinary stuff of life in all its scarcity – two fish and five loaves – and transforms them into God’s self-giving generosity. The outcome was that “all ate and were filled” (v. 42). But that is not all: there were twelve baskets left over, enough bread for all the tribes of Israel.
The church – the disciples – are always a little slow, unwilling to learn what the new data of Jesus means, unwilling to recognize that the world is changed by Jesus, unable to act differently in the new world of Jesus. The disciples seem often to act as though Jesus did not really matter; they act as though the world was still bound in scarcity and anxiety and fearfulness and hoarding.
But let me tell you the news that is proclaimed by Christ’s coming, about which we are reminded at every Communion service: Jesus has turned the world into abundance. God is the gift who keeps on giving, and the people around Jesus are empowered to receive abundance and therefore to act generously.
Every day, all day: it’s still true! “He takes, He blesses, He breaks, He gives.” And we are astonished about the surplus. It is all there for those with eyes to see, with ears to hear, and with hearts to remember. We are recipients of enough and enough and more than enough, enough and enough and more than enough to share. And to be glad in this Giver who keeps on giving…endlessly.”
Walter Brueggemann in Celebrating Abundance (Louisville: WJKP, 2017) 8-9.
After this powerful reading, Brueggemann concludes with this prayer, which is fitting, because we, like the disciples, “are always a little slow” and unwilling to live in the reality of Jesus so we fail to grasp life in His abundant economy. We remain bound in “scarcity and anxiety and fearfulness and hoarding.” Let’s pray it with him.
God whose giving knows no end, make us glad recipients of your generosity. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to remember your abundance, that we might share it with the world. Amen.Read more