Reflecting on Matthew 14: 13-21
My friends Arline and Bay recently moved into a beautiful assisted living apartment, and Arline can’t believe how wonderful it is to not be in charge of feeding people anymore.
Most nights of the year, for nearly sixty years, she prepared a beautiful dinner for up to ten people. Of course, as the kids grew up and moved out of the house the numbers dropped, but as they married and brought the kids over for dinner the table grew again. Bay helped when he was home, but that’s a lot of potatoes to peel, and Arline is weak with relief (and I’ll guess just a twinge of melancholy) that she doesn’t have to worry about it anymore.
Every single meal we enjoy represents labor and attention, gift and sacrifice. From the field to the farm to the beehive to the pasture to the dairy, all creation offers its gift, and then we humans prepare it and put it on the table.
Food is probably the best metaphor for the kingdom, and Jesus uses it often. But it’s his suggestion to the Twelve—Give them some food yourselves— that’s the kernel of the story. Whatever your gift is―attentive listening, loving parenting, sacrificial grand parenting, care for the elderly or for those on the margins in any way―God simply asks that you give it, and then watch it multiply.
This gift of yours is your “sign”, your signature on the world. As Gerhard Lohfink has beautifully written, signs make room for the kingdom of God, and allow it to grow. In your own unique way you too are feeding the five thousand, and bringing forth the reign of God.
How are you offering your own gifts for God to multiply?