This was penned several years back, as a kind of meditation on the Loaves and the Fishes–
It is not as poetic as I had intended for today, but there are words, nonetheless, though perhaps not the right words nor the right order, as poetry ought be.
This morning’s first reading was from the book of Mark, chapter 8.
Jesus feeds the multitude, the crowd of four thousand.
Almost everyone who is literate in the Gospels knows this story; Jesus has been teaching and preaching for three days and the crowd that has gathered and followed him has grown hungry and is far from home. When their hunger is declared to Jesus he asks his disciples to gather together what food they can find, take assessment of what there is, get a reading on the whole situation. What there is turns out to be seven loaves and several fishes. Christ, then, prays over them, multiplies them, and distributes this bread and fish freely, so that all may eat.
When all are satisfied and have been restored, there are, in abundance, seven baskets and more. The Lord has provided beyond what his students, disciples, children and doubters can take in.
When the disciples begin to leave the place of this miracle, they board their boats and soon begin to despair that they have brought no bread with them. “Bread! Where is the bread? We have forgotten to bring the loaves with us!” I imagine a kind of incredulity aboard the boats. But why are they so worried about this bread? Have they not just witnessed Christ, their teacher, bless, multiply and provide? They were witnesses to Christ feeding the four thousand not only with bread and with fish, but with food for the spirit that will never leave them hungry.
They did witness this, and partook in the miracle. Twice, in fact, and Christ reminds them of it, asking them what was left after feeding the five thousand and what was left after feeding the four thousand? They answer in words of ‘many baskets and much fish’. And yet Christ still must ask them: Why are you so concerned about the bread? Do you still not understand my provision? My care for you is much deeper than the food that leaves you hungry later in the day. My bread for you is eternally satisfying, and there will always be plenty of it.
It is not until the resurrection, and maybe not even then, that they begin to see their teacher as the provider of more than bread, his promises more than words. But as mortal beings they–and we, for we are essentially they, the disciples–realize that the things of the spirit are not innate to us and that the metaphysical element, that is, that which holds us together beyond food– in Christ’s loaves and Christ’s fishes is Christ, the sacrifice, himself.