He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” -Mark 6:37
Why doesn’t God take care of…. go ahead, fill in the blank – there are many questions. We all have them – at least if we’re honest we acknowledge that we do. Maybe we pretend we don’t wonder why God is not taking care of something that seems obvious to us. Already the flaws in THAT kind of interpretation are very clear. Even those who were closest to Jesus had questions. In today’s Gospel from Mark Jesus clearly tells the apostles that they have the power to change things. In case it is not apparent, Jesus is telling us the same thing. Over and over and over again.
So what’s our hesitation?
And then – what should we do?
Good questions, but rather than get stuck in our heads, as I typically do, maybe the answers are not practical. Once again, from Mark’s Gospel, I repeat.
He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?”
There is nothing wrong with not realizing what has been given to us or not knowing what to do with it. And we can’t just start cooking up our own ideas either. The delicate balance is how do we do live as “one body” and not start to go off on our own tangents? The question is to Christ and in Christ remains the one answer.
“Give them some food yourselves.”
Not helpful, is it? Does Jesus mean that we should bring dry goods and cans to the food pantry? At one level, yes. Does this mean that we should take our budgets and toss them, not pay our mortgages and buy food for all the hungry? Well, that is probably not wise, but perhaps rethinking what we need holds part of the answer.
What should we do?
I’m not sure, but I am pretty sure that like the apostles we are not getting something. Perhaps it is in small actions. The words from yesterday’s saint, Mother Seton come to mind, “Live simply so that others may simply live.” Counterintuitive as it is, maybe we should begin with small changes of our own and go from there. Get rid of stuff (my current passion – may it be a lifelong change), do something differently than you have done it before, change something. And then there is the virtue of doing all of this in community, acting as One Body. That’s tricky, we start with us and somehow must be in concert with the common good. It’s complicated, but yet I’m thinking that is not that complicated. I don’t know.
The worse the world appears seems to be a reminder to me that we are stuck. It is like we are right there in the midst of Mark’s Gospel scene, looking for practical solutions. We have been given Christ, and while incredible things are done in His name and through Him, we are still wondering if we should be spending “two hundred days wages” to feed others. We want HIM to do it, at least in general. Of course we have to ask God for help, but I’m wondering about how well we are listening and following through.
What do you think we should do? What should we do?
In the meantime, here is a song to remind us of the frustration and desire for the world to be healed. We must pray, but we must act. What should we do?
Hi Fran–We’re now in what’s called the “season of returning.” You know, returning things we got over Christmas. My parish put out a seasonal Christmas bulletin, and one of the suggestions was that we NOT return items to the store. Instead, we donate those wonderful gifts that we got but can’t use to the poor. This makes sense to me. Christ tells us to give away one cloak if we have two. My own journey in minimalism has brought me closer to Christ, I won’t deny it. I suppose it’s because my thought is not clouded with extraneous “stuff,” and I can focus better on what God is calling me to do. Thanks for this piece! 🙂
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I love that idea about the gifts… I did not have things to return this year, but I will share that thought with others. Thank you!
A very thoughtful post, Fran. Awesome tie-in with XTC’s “Dear God”. The lyrics of that song always used to bug me, even though I loved XTC, played that cassette literally until the tape snapped, and know all the words by heart. I knew too many people in my 20s who saw the state of the world as God’s fault, or evidence that God is a fiction. Still do. Same people. The blind spot is huge. God works through us. I love what you have written here bc you expose that in an interesting way. We need help others to see that through our own, often small but collectively significant actions, God IS engaged.
Thank you – I have always loved that song and don’t see it as an atheist anthem hating God. To me it is a plea, you would not talk to someone in that way if you did not believe in something. God has given us so much, we have the means.
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So true, Fran!