Year A - Pentecost +8 or Community Practice 8
July 27, 2014
One unrealistic expectation of a lectionary is that folks will know what comes before and after a particular passage. Having only a slice of the larger story leads us into a literalistic approach to the words selected. A pericope comes with an implied moral.
As we hear the transition words that begin this segment,“On hearing this. . . .”, we need to remember what has just gone on: Baptizer John has just been beheaded.
In the concluding action we can hear a reprise of Jesus in the wilderness after his baptism. With no bread around he was tempted to turn stones into bread and did his Jesus judo by saying we don’t live by bread alone and that he had “bread” unknown to others. Now, with “nothing” to eat for 5,013 men (no “women and children first” here) the disciples respond “we have but enough for ourselves”.
It is not until we get down to not having enough for ourselves that we begin to trust an alternative reality. The Disciples hadn’t hit bottom yet, they were just on the fringes of wilderness, not immersed in it.
Can you hear Jesus saying a different blessing than the expected one, “The Body of John has been broken for us, let us break into a fast in remembrance of him.” And the five loaves and two fish were taken to all. And the people, one by one, remembered they had sustenance previously unknown. [Note: this does not speak to those amazing details of multiplication or eating or left-overs, only to a blessing beyond standard blessings that reframes where we are, who we are, and what might yet be possible.]
From here we can go on to a dry place with water all around and an invitation to “Courage” and a bidding to “Come”.