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Mark 8:1-10

The Word of God

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, "I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way - and some of them have come from a great distance." His disciples replied, "How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?" He asked them, "How many loaves do you have?" They said, "Seven." Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people.

Mark 8:1-10
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Throughout the Bible story of the people that God had taken as his own, there ran a note of great expectation: one day, the final coming in power of God’s kingdom would be brought about by the longed-for Messiah or Saviour. And then there would be celebration and feasting for the whole people. It is possible to see the scene of Jesus miraculously feeding the multitude, as the fulfilment of this expectation – if not as the Messianic banquet itself, then at least as a forerunner of it.
    • In Luke’s version of the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus first gives thanks, then looks up to heaven, and finally blesses the food before distributing it. (Luke 9:16). This makes clear that it is the heavenly Father of his people who is the host of the whole event.
    • At an ordinary human level, we are given a glimpse of Jesus’ tender concern for the crowd. They have left their homes – followed him into the desert – and remained with him for days: he is full of compassion, being very conscious of their tiredness and pangs of hunger.
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    • Jesus had already fed five thousand of his own Jewish people. They had followed him when they saw him set out to have a quiet break on a deserted part of the lake shore (Mark 6:32-44).
    • This time Mark has gentile members of his Christian community in mind, situating the event on the opposite side of the lake.
    • Jesus loved to share meals with everybody. Do I recognise his familiar ritual…’he took bread, gave thanks, broke and gave’ with its Eucharistic overtones?
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • ‘I have compassion’ says Jesus. I need to have it too. Compassion meant that when faced with misery, you are moved ‘to the very guts’, and you try to help. Have I ever experienced deep compassion from someone, a parent, a friend, a nurse, a teacher? Have I a sense of the compassion of God toward me? But of course, if I do not acknowledge my needs, the compassion of others will be irrelevant.
    • ‘How can one feed these people?’ The disciples have not yet understood that nothing is impossible to God. Jesus does not scold them: instead he provides bread in abundance. Our God is a lavish God. Later, in the Passion, it will be he himself who, like the bread, is taken, blessed, broken and given. The pattern of my life is to be the same. I am to be taken, blessed, broken and given, until, like Jesus, I am emptied out, and yet mysteriously filled with love.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • I think of how Jesus has compassion on me and wants to feed me. He sees the distance I have come and wants to give me strength.
    • Even for very little, Jesus gave thanks. The needs are great, my resources are small. I give thanks for what I have.
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    • Am I like the disciples? They have plenty of common sense, but they have little faith that God can do extraordinary things. They do not yet see that with God all things are possible, even though Jesus performed a similar miracle a little while earlier.
    • Lord, today let me see some of the miracles that surround me. So many good things happen to me that need not happen. I have food and drink, while others are ‘in the desert’. Someone is good to me, someone smiles. Even my computer is your gift. And I meet you, my God, in this time of prayer. Also I am linked in with the Sacred Space community across the world. Others support me with their prayer, and I support them too. Thank you, Lord – for everything!
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Lord, when you pointed out the hunger of the crowd, your disciples were defeatist: /How can one feed these people in the desert?/ In reply you did not offer magic, but challenged the disciples: /How many loaves do you have?/
    • All I can work with is what I have, and my experience of your gifts. Instead of looking round for experts, may I use everything I am given.
    • The loaves of the people fed the crowd. Jesus uses what we can give to him in his service. He speaks his word through us and loves the world through us. We are as amazed as the disciples were that our small contribution can do so much when joined to his power of love.
    • This scene is reminiscent of the story of the feeding of five thousand in Mark 6, but there are some subtle differences. As in the previous story, Eucharistic references are there: Jesus gives thanks and breaks the bread as he did at the last supper. This time he only breaks seven loaves and two fish. Some scholars see in this number 'seven' a reference to the mission to the Gentiles undertaken by the seven "deacons" mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. (Acts 6:1-7) All Christians are called to be missionaries in the sense of sharing God's unconditional love with others.
    • Jesus sees the distance I have come and looks at me with compassion. I take this time to allow myself to be nourished as Jesus offers me insight. I bring the people and situations of my life before him.
    • The disciples looked and saw their lack; Jesus asked them to look again and see the possibilities. I look at my life with Jesus, allowing myself to see and appreciate anew.