Proper 13 – Year A

Gene32:22-1; Psalm 17:1-7,16; (or Isaiah 55:1-5; Psalm 145:8-9, 15-22); Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21

“Only a kind person is able to judge another justly and to make allowances for his weaknesses.  A kind eye, while recognizing defects, sees beyond them.” – Lawrence G. Lovasik

                The story of the feeding of the multitude is the most frequently repeated miracle of Jesus in all of the New Testament.  It is in every Gospel account (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-13).  Then Matthew and Mark each tell a second version of feeding of 4,000 (Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-10).  In all we hear the story six times; and rightly so.  It speaks to one of Jesus’ most important messages: justice.  This is not retributive justice which is about punishment for wrongs done.  Jesus is not concerned about that kind of justice, or any kind of revenge.  Punishment is our human obsession.  The feeding of the 5,000 or 4,000 is about distributive justice which sees to it that everyone gets enough.  Specifically in this example everyone gets enough to eat.  However, Jesus doesn’t preach equality of ownership.  Although everyone gets enough to eat, the rich can still go out to a fancy restaurant for steak and lobster.  Although everyone gets basic health care, the rich can still have their expensive insurance policies.  Although everyone gets secure shelter, the rich can still live in their mansions.   But sometimes for everyone to have enough some of us need to have less.  Therein is the resistance to the Gospel message.  We all like the idea of everyone having enough, but none of us want to have any less than we have already accumulated.  Some of us may have to get by with less in order for everyone to have enough.  Jesus is revolutionary.  Followers of this teaching of Jesus have been ridiculed and branded socialists or communists.  When there are political elections, we might ask ourselves which of the candidates are advocating distributive justice and which retributive justice.  And while we are at it, less we be self-righteous, let us evaluate ourselves.  What kind of justice would we like to see?  Even though Jesus’ teaching does not necessarily require strict equality, there is one area where it does.  God gives his love, mercy (opposite of retributive justice), forgiveness, rain and sunshine to all equally even when we have not earned it.  God sees beyond our defects and blesses us all.  Now that is equal distribution.  Can we do the same?

Greek

                In Matthew 14:15 the disciples, in asking Jesus to send the crowds away to buy food for themselves, most translations say the hour is “late.”  Actually the Greek is more nuanced.  It says literally that the hour or time has “slipped by” indicating that time spent with Jesus is flow time.

Haiku

Everyone enough.

God’s way modeled here and now.

Time slips by for all.