Friday – August 8, 2014; Matthew 15:32-39
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.
Whenever my daughter and I take long road trips…whether it is to South Dakota, Florida, the Outer banks, or just back home to Staten Island to visit family, we always take some snacks. For the shorter trips we’ll take some cookies or chips, for the cross-country journeys we may even pack a cooler with sandwiches, fruit along with soda or bottled water.
These snacks come in handy when we are making these trips as they can break up the sometimes monotonous drive, save money from having to stop at too many rest stops and for the most obvious reason…to help us not get too hungry during our long journey.
I think it would be safe to assume that we are not the only travelers who bring snacks along for their trip, as we often bring along what we need when we travel, from snacks, to medicines, to books and luggage!
In fact, on occasion, I will see news stories about people stuck in massive traffic jams due to construction or weather, who will simply stop their cars and have an impromptu party on the road while they wait out the delay…sharing what they have brought along with them to help make the time pass more pleasantly.
In Jesus’ time it was not all that different, as travelers brought along what they needed to sustain themselves for their journey because they could not just pull off at the next exit to get a burger or some coffee.
And this is where the real miracle of this gospel story is revealed, and it is not that Jesus somehow made the seven loaves and fish somehow multiple so it could feed the four thousand, but that the people gathered together to hear Jesus were so moved by his teaching that they took out what they had and shared it with each other, allowing everyone to eat their fill, with plenty left over!
This is what we are called to do as followers of Christ: to share what we have with each other, to help each other as we travel down our own paths in life.
As single parents, it is not unusual that we would feel as if we are truly parenting alone at times…as if we are solely responsible for our children, and as such have had to meet every challenge on our own, with no help! The good news is that these feelings are not facts…as we are never really alone! There are many who make this journey with us, and just like those who came to hear Jesus that day, we all bring what we need with us as we travel through life!
When we gather together for worship, fellowship, support, or just to enjoy our friendships, we share what we have brought with each other, feeding each other with hope, compassion and with the wisdom we have gained while raising our children. I have found that I can learn how to be a better parent, and how to handle the stress of single parenting, from just about anyone: other single parents who have been through some of the same trials that my daughter and I have been experienced, partnered parents, who can shine a whole new light on a stubborn problem, those who have already raised children and grandchildren, who have a lifetime of experience to share. to those who have never had children…as these people can remind me of the great gift I have been given, which is to be able to watch my daughter grown from an infant all the way to early adulthood…and to be able to have a strong relationship with her!
These are all gifts from God: our children, and also those who can help sustain us on our journey, by sharing their wisdom, strength and hope with us – just as we can share what we have learned with them! For it is through others that God can speak to us, and give us hope, strength and love. All we need for our journey!
Let us Pray,
Dear God, thank you for sharing so much with us: your love, grace and compassion…as well as your only son! Please help us to share this compassion and hope with each other as we journey together on this great road-trip of parenting! Let us be open to learn from others (as sometimes we can be very proud of our self-sufficiency) and to also share what we have learned with all those who reach out to us for help. Thank you for the gift of your grace, the kindness of others, and the love we have for our children.