Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 51; 148, Ezra 7:27-28, 8:21-36, Revelation 15:1-8, Matthew 14:13-21
When we think about the origin of Holy Communion, we generally reflect on the Last Supper, or the Words of Institution from the Gospels or 1 Corinthians. These passages recollect Jesus comparing the bread and wine to his body and blood, and asking his disciples to remember him by doing the same.
Yet the association between Jesus and bread doesn’t begin with the Last Supper. In John’s Gospel, Jesus refers to himself as the Bread of Life. And in all four Gospels, we read the story of feeding the multitudes with loaves and fishes. In two of them, it happens a second time.
In Matthew’s telling of the first feeding, the disciples were ready to dismiss the crowd because it was late and everyone was hungry. Instead Jesus told the disciples to feed them. The disciples, having only five loaves and two fish, were naturally skeptical but did as he ordered. As the familiar story goes there were a dozen baskets of food left over after five thousand men plus women and children ate their fill.
Isn’t this the essence of the church in action? We don’t dismiss people in need to return after they’ve fended for themselves, but greet them with inclusive hospitality. Even more, we meet those needs trusting not in numbers and naysayers but in the power of Christ to multiply our efforts beyond what we can imagine on our own. And through all of it, we share the message of the Kingdom of Heaven in both word and deed. As the disciples didn’t simply keep what they had to split among themselves, we know our resources do not exist for our own benefit, but to enable us to serve others.
The time we spend remembering Christ while receiving communion is only half the way we honor him. The other half is in trusting him to use us to turn that morsel of bread into a feast for the world. The love and mercy we receive are meant for more than hoarding and sharing only among those who already know Christ. Let us trust they are resources that won’t be depleted but multiplied as we share them.
Comfort: When what we have is blessed by Christ, it will be more than enough.
Challenge: Trust that Christ has a vision greater than yours.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for welcoming me to your table, and for the opportunity to welcome others. Amen.
Discussion: Have you ever been able to do more with your resources than you would have thought possible?
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