February 15, 2014 - Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

1 Kings 12:26-32; 13:33-34
Psalm 106:6-7, 19-22
Mark 8:1-10

This is the second story we have where Jesus feeds a lot of people with just a little food. In the other story, there are 5000 families, five loaves, and two fish. This time there are only 4000 families, and Jesus starts with more food: seven loaves and a few fish. Also, more food is left over the first time, twelve baskets full versus seven baskets full.

Some scholars think that Jesus only did it one time and the Apostles remembered the numbers differently and made it into two stories, but St. Mark considered the difference between the two stories so important that out of only about 11,000 words in his Gospel, he devotes 160 to tell the story the first time and another 140 to tell it this second time. This would be sort of wasteful just to get both sets of numbers down. No, Mark either wrote both down to let us know that it all happened at least twice or, and this is more likely yet, because he wants us to compare the two events and learn something.

If we are going to learn something, we should begin with the disciples. Did they learn anything? Last time, they told Jesus to dismiss the crowd. This time, they trust Jesus. He calls them, not at the end of one day, but after three days of teaching. Last time, the disciples went to Jesus as it was getting late in the day, because they were afraid that he did not know that the people are hungry; this time, they trust him. Jesus knows that the people need to eat, and he cares that the people need to eat. After two days someone could have accused Jesus of letting the people starve to death, of being uncaring, but Jesus knew that he could provide for the people when the people needed providing for.

Sometimes it seems as if we are not being provided for because we see a need in the future and do not have the solution right now. We do not know how we are going to get over the next mountain which we see looming on the road ahead. Jesus wants us to stop worrying about the next mountain and focus on the road under our feet. We have everything we need for right now. The concerns of each day are sufficient; do not be anxious about tomorrow.