Psalms 143; 147:12-20, Isaiah 49:13-23 (24-26), Galatians 3:1-14, Mark 6:30-46
Effective teachers and parents know when it is time to stop instructing and let a child act on the lesson. Until we actually do something ourselves, we haven’t really learned. Some would say we haven’t mastered a thing until we can teach that thing to someone else.
After a long day of preaching and healing, Luke tells us, the disciples thought the crowd of five thousand men (perhaps ten thousand people counting women and children) needed to disperse into the surrounding area to find food and lodging. When they asked Jesus to dismiss the crowd, he surprised them by saying: “You feed them.” How five loaves and two fish then fed the multitude is one of the Gospel’s most famous miracles. The miracle sometimes overshadows another important element of the story: Jesus told the disciples to do it themselves.
Folk wisdom says God answers all prayer, and sometimes the answer is “No.” Let’s expand on that; maybe sometimes the answer is: “Great idea! Get to it!” At some point we need to move beyond listening to and talking about faith, and get to living it. Jesus does not offer a faith of heady concepts, but one of relationship and love. He does not teach a faith limited to Bible study, bake sales, and church attendance, but one of being present and caring for “the least” of our sisters and brothers. Understanding what Christ wants us to do is only the beginning of getting it done.
The apostles were not a particularly perceptive lot. They were probably either hungry themselves, or beginning to hear rumblings from the people gathered. The concern they brought to Christ seemed overwhelming, but with God’s help it was not beyond their abilities. How many of the concerns we bring to Christ might be addressed by opening ourselves to the possibility of God working through us? If God doesn’t seem to answer our prayer, maybe God is waiting on us. If we entrust our actions to God, and if we make an effort to be perceptive, the answer to a prayer may start when we get off our knees.
Comfort: God leaves us to our own devices out of trust, not neglect.
Challenge: Be ready to act on the lessons of the Gospel.
Prayer: Loving God, make me ready to be the answer to a prayer. Amen.
Discussion: When have you learned that the only thing standing between you and what you wanted or needed … was you?
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