Welcoming all to our table
One of only two Gospel stories included in all four Gospels is the much-loved miracle story of the loaves and the fish. We often find that each time we hear a familiar Gospel story, we find some new meaning, depending on our own story at that time.
So how does this familiar story of the masses being fed by 5 loaves and 2 fish touch us today when our stories may have much in common, but our experiences and the ways we are impacted are very different?
In the crowd of more than 5000 who gathered to hear Jesus talk, there would have been female, male, young, old, sick and healthy; with different stories and circumstances but with the common desire to hear what Jesus had to say. Perhaps the miracle that day was not just the amount of food that was shared but also about how people felt by the act of Jesus welcoming all to the table, to share in the feast God offers and to the wonder of God’s love and healing.
In a world where the sick, unclean and the poor were deemed less worthy, Jesus’ message was that of God’s love for everyone. All were welcomed to the table that day – Jesus went out of his way to ensure this.
Imagine the scene. This diverse multitude of people would have sat down where they were after listening to Jesus, to eat together and share their stories with each other.
Perhaps they may have spoken about the love God had for each of them, and perhaps how to put an end to that which did not speak of God’s love – injustice, discrimination, or intolerance. Perhaps they would have walked away with a new way of seeing each other, having sat at a communal ‘table’ and discussed what they had heard Jesus say that day.
The miracle of the loaves and fishes is that this large gathering of people would have left feeling fully fed, loved by God, and maybe healed, too. Changed people.
The message for us is perhaps, about how we can make real God’s vision for the world by welcoming all to our table and treating them with love and respect, just as Jesus did that day.