Thursday, July 10, 2014

Break to make

Matthew 14:14-21
14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Jesus finishes his ministry to the crowd and it is close to evening. The disciples request Jesus to send the crowd away so that they may eat something. Jesus asks his disciples to give the people something to eat. They reply that they have only 5 loaves and 2 fish. Jesus requests the crowd to sit on the grass. He then blesses and breaks the loaves and gives to the disciples to distribute. Everyone eats their fill and 12 baskets of broken pieces are collected.

The miracle story clearly talks of a symbolic communion as Jesus breaks bread and his disciples distribute it. The passage though gives a couple of pointers to think about.

Firstly, breaking bread or in essence breaking oneself for others is a clear moment of being able to offer a solution when none is available. The disciples cannot think about a solution to the crisis of having a hungry multitude of people. This is clearly something which comes from Jesus’ unique background and experience on earth. He was born in a manger, grew up as a refugee, and trained as a carpenter. This gave him certain mundane and critical skills which someone born in a palace would not have. In the time of a crisis, this comes to the forefront and he is able to offer a solution to hunger.

Secondly, Jesus’ solution is a third world outlook of life. Jesus’ wish to break bread is an ordinary step to share what he had. This is not what we usually do but definitely something which we can do. Indians are known in the business world and other places as people who can offer solutions when there appear to be none. Jesus does just that. “The wealth of one percent of the richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion—15x more than the wealth held by the bottom 70 percent.” Yet we struggle with poverty and scarcity. There is enough in the world for everyone and yet the mind to share does not come through.

This is when a third world mentality helps, because it associates with the mentality of Jesus. This is not easy but has to be experienced in several ways. In India, the poor share what they have in a very matter of fact way. Several of us would have noticed how the poor share the food they get on the street with one another. This is a normal reaction.

Many of us have come from an ordinary background. Today things might have changed but we can’t forget that we have been brought up in a culture of sharing. This is our strength. Jesus associated with the same culture. He continued to share even in his richness and continued to give even in his power and glory. This is what is being asked of us today. We have shown our creativity and hard work in offering solutions for business and creating jobs. Can we use the same creativity and hard work for alleviating poverty and suffering? Can we break ourselves like Jesus did and understand that in breaking and sharing lies our richness? Amen.

(Picture courtesy

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