Fishes and loaves mindset

I’ll give the disciples the benefit of the doubt.

Mark 6:34 says that a “great crowd” had rushed in from all over to listen to Jesus. The day went on and Jesus was still teaching and preaching. People were surely getting hungry. This is where the disciples stepped up. They suggested it was time for Jesus to send everyone away so they could go find something to eat.

Again, thinking the best of them, it looks like they wanted to make sure all those people were fed. I’ll remind you that Mark also told us the disciples hadn’t eaten yet either.

In response to their idea, Jesus told them there was no need to send the people away. It’s one of my favorite lines from Jesus. “You give them something to eat,” he said. I like to imagine the disciples’ expressions.

Do you think they had the two hundred denarii, half a year’s salary, that they spoke of to Jesus? Or was that them being dramatic?

From here, there are so many other details I have questions about. Many more than we have time to get into fully here. Take some time for yourself to reflect on a few things. First, Jesus told them to take inventory of their bread. Why did they come back with fish, too? What do the numbers five and two bring to mind?

They could’ve sat anywhere; many of them probably already were. Why did they have to sit on the “green grass”? Why did some sit in groups of fifty and others hundreds?

Mark gives us clear Eucharistic images as we envision Jesus looking to heaven blessing and breaking the bread before giving it to everyone.

It’s what happened next that intrigues me today. Remember that everyone had enough to eat and there were leftovers! Some five thousand people, at the least, ate that night. What did the disciples do with the leftovers? They put them in baskets. Twelve baskets to be exact, which is another detail.

I was reading and learned there’s a word for this particular kind of basket. They were hampers; the Latin word is cophinus. Jews used them to carry food and other items. It’s said they would carry hay in the baskets to use for pillows on their journeys so they wouldn’t have to ask for help from Gentiles and run the risk of being made unclean.

Now, who took the baskets? Did they belong to the disciples? Did some of them belong to other people? Who knows? But someone had to walk back with them. Who would they meet along the way? And would they be willing to share what God gave to them if need be? Would there be any reservations about offering food to anyone in need? No matter who they were?

That’s the real question that matters most to the Church.

Are we willing to give of what God has given to us? We’ve been blessed with so much. How can we not? Having a loaves and fishes mindset helps us see that we will have all we need; God is faithful. We don’t need to be stingy or selfish. We don’t give our blessings away. We share them.

Stay blessed…john

Live long and prosper

Live long and prosper.

If you are familiar with those words, you might be envisioning the corresponding hand gesture. It’s the Vulcan salute, made famous by Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame. The salute is so well-known it has its own emoji. As renown as Star Trek is, though, Mr. Spock’s unusual finger movement has other origins. It’s widely accepted Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played Mr. Spock, borrowed the salute from his Jewish heritage.

Whereas Mr. Spock used one hand, Jewish priests used both. It’s the same gesture, but both hands connect at the thumbs. For both Spock and the priests, the gesture and the blessing go hand in hand. Spock’s blessing was for long life and prosperity. The priests’ offered something similar.

Theirs was a three-fold blessing offered every morning after the Temple sacrifice. It was the same blessing each day, prescribed by God. Besides the command given in Numbers 6, I’ve learned the reason priests would offer the blessing was because the words came straight from God. So, the priests were offering the faithful a blessing that God originated and sustained.

Jewish tradition suggests God’s presence would shine through the priest’s fingers. Maybe that’s a stained-glass window parallel. Light shines through biblical depictions captured in a window and illuminates God’s truth and presence. That even connects to the second part of the blessing as well.

But first, the blessing is for, well, blessings. Sustenance and all that is needed to live a blessed life.

Think of Jesus when he says that God our heavenly Father knows we need these things and will add them unto us. In Jesus’ case, that is the assurance of those who seek first God’s kingdom. The priests offered a similar assurance. As you are faithful to God’s wisdom, you can expect blessings in life.

The second part of the blessing seems to suggest God’s presence is evident through you. If God’s face shines upon you, others can see. That means you become a blessing to those you encounter.

Finally, the priestly blessing affirms that God’s way will lead you to peace. And when you have peace, you make peace.

There’s one more part of the blessing that is important. It’s just after the words the priest were to use. God says, “So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

If I read that correctly, God says the priests will stamp God’s name upon the people. Then God will bless them.

Bless who?

The people? They already received the blessing.

I wonder if God is promising to bless the priests.

I love leading a congregation in those words after confession: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. But I also love hearing the congregation lead me in that affirmation, too.

Could that be a lesson we take from the priestly blessing? We are a part of the priesthood of all believers. As such, shouldn’t we have a blessing to share to those around us? Shouldn’t we seek to bless people with God’s peace?

As we do, we have the confidence God blesses us in return. The blessings perpetuate through God’s grace.

Glory to God. Amen.

Stay blessed…john

One blessing that comes from God is that you can be hopeful even if you don’t feel happy.

Read Hebrews 12:1