Daily Office Readings for Saturday of the 5th Week of Easter: Year 1
“For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, ‘Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.’ They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled.” (Luke 9: 14 to 17)
I can remember asking my bishop, when I was about to graduate from seminary, to consider me for a small parish. I felt most comfortable in small parishes. My sending parish, St. Christopher’s, Havelock, North Carolina, was such a small parish. It is easier to get to know all the members if it’s not a “mega” church, (five thousand members). Of course, the financing is more challenging, especially with the Episcopal Church’s compensation package. None the less, the five loaves and two fish of the small parish were sufficient to pass on to other groups of fifty. And, there were leftovers.
My supervisor during my field education while at seminary had a picture of the Lord’s Supper with a room full of people. Yes, the apostles were there, but so were other people also, other men, women and children. It was both solemn and celebratory. I would love to have that painting or one like it. It suggests that while the apostles were present, they were not the only ones there, some disciples were present also. You and I were there also. For me, this painting doesn’t dispute the Bible, it tells the greater truth.
Our Lord Jesus teaches us to not look at the greatness of the five thousand or the littleness of the five loaves, but rather, to focus on the groups of fifty. We will get to the five thousand, fifty at a time. We will take them, bless them and dismiss them back into the outer community to further spread the word of the Kingdom of God. Herein lies the fourfold points of Communion. Our Lord Jesus Took, Blessed, Broke, and Gave to us the different pieces of blessings. For us to be whole and holy, we must come together again and again, reuniting what is blessed in the hands of our Lord.
This distribution and making whole and holy is much easier done in smaller groups, say fifty or so. We should come together weekly in remembrance of our Lord Jesus asking us to be seated in groups of about fifty. When we see members of our “family of fifty” outside of the parish, we know them, and are glad to see them. We don’t worry about how little we have; we celebrate how much we love. What a great parish. What a great plan. What a great Lord and Leader.
Let us live to love, more than just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John