July 31, 2005 - Pentecost +11

Matthew 14:13-21

 13 On hearing this, Jesus set out secretly by boat for a secluded place. But the people heard of it, and they followed him on foot from their towns. 14 When Jesus went ashore, he saw the crowd gathered there and he had compassion on them. And he healed their sick.

15 Late in the afternoon, his disciples came to him and said, "We are in a lonely place and it is now late. You should send these people away, so they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat."

16 But Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat." 17 They answered, "We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes." 18 Jesus said to them, "Bring them here to me."

19 Then he made everyone sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fishes, raised his eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves and handed them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 20 And they all ate, and everyone had enough; then the disciples gathered up the leftovers, filling twelve baskets. 21 About five thousand men had eaten there besides women and children.

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Comments from Wesley 

1. Resolving grief comes in many ways. John has been killed by the state. Jesus withdraws but is surrounded by many. He is instructed to tend to his own by sending the extras away. Jesus responds that there are no extras. In a shift from intentional withdrawal to intentional invitation we find this sense deepening until we find that there are extras, not extra people but extra blessings, more than enough to go around.

2. It is good to know that fear (Herod) and grief (John) are not able to capture and control compassion (sick) and generosity (hunger). This reality is a challenge to us as we find ourselves tempted to temper our compassion in light of our fear and to withhold our generosity in the face of our grief.

3. What begins in an individual response to fear and grief gets grounded in community so that next week we can find that further withdrawal doesn't lead to further and further isolation, but to a decision of intentional reinvolvement with the storms of life. In some sense, where before angels waited upon prophets in a deserted desert wilderness, now the lonely prophet waits upon those worn out by their everyday lives.

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