by Louise Westfall
When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, and began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may buy something for themselves to eat.” But Jesus answered them, “You give them something to eat.” Mark 6:34-37
One of the great pleasures of travel is sampling the local food. Following my son’s wedding in Nova Scotia, family members and I drove to Prince Edward Island which claims to be the oyster and mussel capital of the world. No argument here! We dined on Malpeque and Gooseberry Bay oysters and Blue Point mussels harvested mere hours before, reveling in their briny bite.
But even more than food itself, is the pleasure of shared meals. With fresh memories of the beautiful wedding, we ate leisurely and accompanied the feasts with conversation and catching up, commentary and advice on everything from religion and politics to current events and family dynamics, served up with lots of affection, laughter and love. Fact is, dining together provides much more than bodily nourishment; it’s food for the soul.
The crowds had been drawn to Jesus’ teaching, his compassion, and the way he made God’s presence felt. The day slipped away and Jesus’ disciples — anticipating the hunger of the people — urged Jesus to send the people into neighboring villages to buy food for themselves to eat. But Jesus turned a human need into an opportunity for a shared meal. Not everyone for themselves, but everyone for everyone, and the surprising abundance which flowed from that simple act. All ate and were filled. There were leftovers! Truly a picnic in paradise.
O taste and see that God is good! When the community eats together, something extraordinary happens. We embody the One who is the Bread of Life; we demonstrate the truth that God’s love is poured out upon us and among us without condition and without limit. We delight in the company of others as we both give and receive.
We thank you, God, for happy hearts, for rain and sunny weather. We thank you God for this our food and that we are together. Amen.
Make an intention
Eat with someone or a group of people outside your family. Ask each person to bring something to share. Start the meal with an expression of gratitude to God for providing food for our bodies and souls. Thank one another for the gifts each brings.