Reflection for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost: Thankfulness

By Sue Berry

Readings: Matthew 14:13-22, Romans 9:1-5, Genesis 32:22-31, Psalm 17:1-7,15

The gospel reading today is a very familiar story which appears in all four gospels. If we dig deeper into the story various elements become apparent.

It begins where Jesus withdraws to a wilderness place having received the news of John the Baptist’s death at the hands of Herod the Tetrarch. John was well known to Jesus. He was a member of his family and one who had heralded the arrival of Jesus. John had baptised Jesus at the Jordan river. 

Jesus needed the time to grieve pray and seek his next steps. He was seeking rest for his body and strength for his soul in the quiet place. If this is your need today take time to come into His presence to be and hear His voice and rest.

However this time was interrupted by the crowds who had followed Jesus from the cities, seeking him. A multitude of around twenty thousand people, (a sizeable number of the population of Galilee) came out of the cities and towns into the wilderness. 

Jesus has compassion on the people. He takes time to heal all their sicknesses over the course of the day. As evening draws near the people would be hungry and needed a meal. The disciples suggested to Jesus that the crowds needed to return to the towns and villages to buy food for themselves. Jesus flips this idea on its head and tell them to feed the crowds. 

All they have are five loaves and two fish. Certainly a simple meal for a small family but not for large crowds. Jesus takes what they have. He blesses it and the miracle of multiplication begins. All the crowds were fed and there is enough to fill 12 large baskets with left overs!

Jesus changes their perspectives. He needs them to work with him to feed the people. When he wants to do something He needs people to work with him to be willing and obedient to follow his directions, not leaning on their own understanding. 

He asks us to bring what little we have so He can use it in service to others. In so doing,  His love and truth can be demonstrated to a world in need of him. God gives generously as there was food left over for the journey ahead. 

In the story, Jesus gives thanks for the gifts of bread and fish and blesses them. A Blessing said at a family Shabbat meal over the bread is:

“ Blessed are you Lord our God ruler of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth.” 

It is a reminder of the blessing said at a Eucharist service too.

This is a miracle which reminds us that Jesus gave us spiritual food through His sacrifice which creates a way to provide for us. This miracle speaks to us on so many levels. It tells us about who Jesus is. He is the one who knows our needs and compassionately meets them.

The crowds were fed and then sent on their way. The story is one of a miracle of changed people where selfishness is exchanged for generosity. We too can be fed by Jesus who gave himself to change hard hearts. 

When Jesus is there the weary find rest and the hungry soul is fed.

Thanksgiving

As we have meditated on the story take a moment to reflect what the Holy Spirit has spoken to you through it.

Thankfulness is an act of the will, for some things it maybe difficult but as in the story when thanksgiving was made, the bread was blessed and a miracle began to take place. 

What or who would you like to give thanks for today? Thankfulness opens the door to God’s presence. Reading Psalm 100 is a great place to start. 

Try finding something to give thanks for each day for over this next month. Change will happen. I am challenging myself too!

Prayer

Thank you God for your amazing power at work in our lives,

Thank you for your goodness and blessings over us, 

Thank you for your great love and care.  

Thank you for your mercy and grace

Thank you that you are always with us and will never leave us

Thank you for your incredible sacrifice so that we might have freedom and life.

Help us Lord to set our eyes upon you.

Renew us with your peace and joy.

Help us to have thankful hearts this day and everyday.

We give you praise and thanks for you alone are worthy.

In Jesus Name 

Amen

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