by Rev. Fr. Abraham Thomas
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 15: 32- 39
With a slight difference, again a story of the feeding! Just as in the case of a few other incidents in here also, figuratively some of the NT scholars interpret that the first story (feeding of the five thousand) was the people of the own tribe whereas this incident refer to the wider community. Even though this is not evident in the Gospel with the extended number of people who joined the fellowship we could at least infer that the values of the 'Kingdom of Heaven' are permeating into world more vigorously.
Divine Compassion and the responsibility of the Disciples
The multitude had the freedom to be with Him for as long as they wanted. He is compassionately asking the disciples to provide them food. The doubt that the disciples had on how on earth they could provide anything for such a large crowd is natural. (Interestingly, there is an OT parallel for this doubt of the disciples- 'how can I set this before a hundred men?' II Kings 4: 42- as Elisha's servant doubted him on how the limited resource would be sufficient to a larger crowd). Origen (c.a. 254 AD+) in his Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthews says that the multitude never wanted to go away from Him as they found solace in Him. They would have gone to the nearby villages or to their own houses but they found it more significant to be with Him. (Comm. Matt: Book XI: 2). The world needs Him; it is the responsibility of the Church- the community of His disciples- to realize this need and cater accordingly. Unfortunately the paraphernalia or protocols that we would tend to hold on may ask questions like on what way that we can cater such a large crowd? Sometimes we may be the real hindrance to others to see Him or to be with Him.
Again it is a divinely assigned responsibility of the Church to cater to the need of those who may 'collapse on their way'. This is not the sole example of the divine intervention to those who are at the verge of breaking up. Hagar, who could not find any way-out other than 'death' is receiving water for thirst and a new vision for the future life (Gen. 21: 15-19); Elijah who was about to burn out himself under the broom tree found bread baked on coal and jar of water (I Kings 19: 3-5); Hananiah and his friends seeing Him as the 'fourth person' in the fiery experience (Dan. 3: 20-27) are only a few examples. We may be at that point of giving up ourselves finding no way forward or may be incessantly ended up before closed doors; yet let us not give up as His compassion could help us find new ways. In order that we would not 'collapse on our way' let us join His flocks in communion.
'How many loaves do you have'? (Vs. 34)- was rather a simple question. Questions are not anything that would pleasantly be accepted by many but it may have the power to transform our attitude and vision. Questions are in fact an obstacle but a life without an obstacle will not teach us anything.
The Compassionate God by Jose Kurian Puliyeril
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