Jesus said, “Make the people sit down”. There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted. When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted”. They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves”. (Mark 6: 10 – 13)
A guy I know grew up believing his grandma was with Jesus when he fed the 5000. He came to that belief because whenever that particular gospel would be read, everyone in the family whispered, “Grandma musta’ been there!” And they would laugh.
They all knew that no matter how many people arrived for dinner – even unexpectedly – everyone ate and there was always plenty left over. “My family was never rich,” my acquaintance said, “especially when my mum was growing up, but they never felt poor, either”.
Some people have a sense of abundance, that there’s plenty in life to go around and they love to share what they have. Others are Scrooges who hoard everything, worrying that there can never be enough to satisfy. The apostles were skinflints when Jesus asked them to start offering what little they could muster. But then food started showing up, and everyone had plenty.
Some people in the church have those same attitudes about God’s grace. They believe that grace is so rare that we have to hoard it and dole it out piecemeal only to the most deserving. But others take their cue from Jesus, who fed the 5000-plus on a moment’s notice: They realise that in God there is no skimping. The God who created the countless stars in the sky and who pours out his life into all creation is no miser. Open your heart; there’s plenty for all.