32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” 33 The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” 34 Jesus asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 38 Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.[f]
This isn’t the first time Jesus fed a large crowd. He did so a couple chapters before, this time the crowd a bit bigger, 5000. Why repeat the story? I think because of us. Human readers. We forget. It was quite the spectacle when it happened with 5,000, certainly that’s not a thing that will just happen regularly, right? Wrong. Jesus does it again. Not to show off, but to show us this is part of discipleship and we always have the tools to do good, even if it seems like the materials we have pale in comparison to the need.
I thought of this at the protest that happened in Ann Arbor yesterday. There were a couple hundred at least. Young and old; black, brown, and white. We were outside for a couple of hours and there was a crowd. And lo and behold the organizers worried about feeding and hydrating people. Someone had donated water and food. Throughout the march, individuals walked by offering water bottles to those who looked thirsty. One woman came around with a bottle of suntan lotion providing UV protection to any who might need it. There weren’t any lines or hyper-organization to it. It was just people looking out for other people.
I watch the news each night and it rarely covers stories or video footage of quiet good and generosity. No one took pictures of the woman spraying strangers with UV protection. No one got the shot of the 19 year old young black man who passed out water to a white couple who looked to be in their 80s. But those that witnessed it have the responsibility to share the good news we experienced. The gospel is being preached in these moments, and it is not with words but with actions.
Prayer: God help us to see that the good news is present in the actions, generosity and spirits of those who seek justice for all. Amen.