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The Feeding of the 5,000

Pictures by pexels-Pixabay-162769, pexels-Pixabay-209194, pexels-Ekaterina Bolovtsova-5662350, respectively

It has been quite a trying time within our family these past weeks for we had to face the death of my oldest surviving sister, Eizabeth. She was 87 with a number of health challenges, but you might not guess it if your saw her as she was a person of enormous energy and a great survivor. If you come from a large family, as I do, and a mostly happy one, then you will know that the time will come when you will lose a brother or sister. Two of my sisters and a brother-in-law died in the last 18 months. The blessing for us is that they lived very fulfilled lives and so enriched our lives leaving us and their children with special memories of them.

I was asked to reflect on the story of the Feeding of the 5,000 in the New Testament for St Mark’s Church District Six Sunday morning on-line Eucharist and am sharing this with you together with a rendering of A Gaelic Blessing composed by John Rutter and sung by Katherine Jenkins. The theme for my reflection is Bread and the lovely pictures come from Pexel Contributors. I have acknowledged the photographers below their work and am grateful to them for offering their work freely.

Stay safe and well during these challenging times.


Feeding of The Five Thousand Pentecost 25 July 2021

Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’ John 6: 9

The main theme in the Gospel today is Bread. Jesus is the bread of life. Then the passage takes in the story of Jesus coming to his disciples in the boat through the storm.

I have read that this story of Jesus walking on the water, is probably a post-resurrection story. It is easy to see that it ties in with the resurrection appearances-stories of Jesus. We are going through a number of storms just at the moment in South Africa and need the encouragement of such a story. Peace be still was certainly our yearning, as people looted stores in Gauteng and KZN

In the Gospel today there is the Boy, and there is Bread.
What a lovely way for a good story to begin – Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish…………… the rescue and answer seems to come from a least expected place, from a very insignificant place and person – a boy! Just a boy! He is bringing, sharing the material, his lunch that will show us where our focus should be, not on the material but on the spiritual depth of everything we encounter in life.

Thomas Merton wrote that: “The will of God is not fate to which we submit but a creative act in our life producing something absolutely new…something hitherto unforeseen by the laws and established patterns. Our cooperation (seeking first the kingdom of God) consists not solely in conforming to laws but by opening our wills out to the creative act which must be retrieved in and by us.”

If someone lightly and easily says to you, some happening is the will of God, please don’t just go along with their way of thinking, as though everything in life is pre-ordained, pre-determined. Not so, for like, a boy or girl with all your imaginary agility – in everything, you must work to discern the will of God, exercise you heart and mind and imagination
You must see what you can bring so that God can use and transform it to bring in the miracle of surprise, the miracle of the new.

We see this happening in the story. Everyone is fed -12 baskets full left over. Move to top of next column

Picture by pexels-Cottonbro-4038118,

The boy brings his bread, such good intention – this is the catalyst for the miracle.

I like the breadness of this story – the smell of this story  

Bread is so pure, so necessary

It is something of simple beauty, lovely texture, shape

it is a miracle in itself rising up the way it does

breaking bread is communion with the soil, the earth and sky, light itself

It is a culture, of earth coming into hands, pummelled and mixed with fire

It is eaten around a table of people in community,

It can lead to work and action for the common good, and care of the earth.

There are so many shapes and cultures that bread takes on

The braided Jewish bread, The long French Baguettes, Flat bread from Jamaica, Ethiopian Injera, Italian focaccia, Cornbread from America, Chapati from India, Irish Soda bread, Pita bread from Mediterranean countries, Even the doughnut is bread, Koeksisters!

The miracle: God takes ordinary, natural things, bread and wine – and acts through them.

Pictures by pexels-Markus Spiske-1871024, pexels-Ivan Torres-1374586

Thomas Merton

Merton…celebrated creatures as vestiges or sacraments that reflected the overflowing creativity of their divine source.

For, like a grain of fire

Smouldering in the heart

Of every living essence

God plants his undivided power –

Buries his thought too vast for words

In seed and roots and blade and flower

God’s divine energy is in all things – in us, in everything around us – for us to open out to and use in an interplay of receiving, of being filled and graciously giving, breathing out, letting go, passing on, playing forward.

William Blake the great mystical poet invites us to

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.

Reflect for a moment on the simple things you have been given, and where it has gone, and how it has multiplied.

God takes your words, your thoughts, your prayers, your compassion

And multiplies it for the world.

What can God do with us if like the boy we could step forward and offer our gifts for the common good?

Ask this question in the light of our present crises in South Africa, the storm we are in?

The boy used his imagination for the common good, David used his imagination evilly to possess Bathsheba, and the looters, how did they use their imagination, the politicians – how do they use their imaginations?

Prof Njabulo Ndebele, wrote the following in 2012. It speaks to one part of the sadness about us politically and all of us personally.

“…  it has become a matter of habit for us to keep telling the stories of what was done to us.  We do not tell as much the stories of what we did. This habit results in a remarkable irony.  The more we tell the stories of what was done to us, we steadfastly recall and therefore remain in the past that we had strived to release ourselves from. When we do this, we retain our status as objects. We can be objects not only in the eyes of others, but also in our own eyes.

Something else happens, though, when we tell the story of what we did. We become subjects. Subjects are responsible for what they do. The more we tell the story of what we did, we create the possibility that through our own efforts we can create the future that we still desire. – Prof Njabulo Ndebele, 2012

Jesus did not come into the world mainly to give bread, but to be bread. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will not hunger. He who believes in me will never thirst” John 6:35

Let us live with this aroma of breadness within ourselves,

The breathing in of its fragrances daily

The receiving and giving of ourselves in each moment

And let the miracles of life happen

St Paul prayed beautifully for us in Ephesians 3:14-21

. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

4 comments on “The Feeding of the 5,000

  1. Hi Bob

    I am sorry to read that your sister died recently. Losing three close family members in eighteen months must be very hard, and I am glad to read that you and your family are left with happy memories.

    Peter also sends his best wishes.




  2. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your message… or perhaps I should say His message sent by you.


  3. Dear Bob
    What a thought provoking, inspiring message from you! Awakening the creative process to actualise our potential. I love the sight, taste and smell of bread!
    Warm Regards


  4. JenLem says:

    Dear Bob, thank you for the inspiring way you make the impossible so relevant to our world today.


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