Jun 30, 2020

MATHEMATICS AND THE KIN-DOM



MULTIPLICATION OF LOAVES AND FISH


SCRIPTURE—Luke 9
As sunset approached, the Twelve came and said to Jesus, “Dismiss the crowd, so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and food, for this is a remote and isolated area.” Jesus answered them, “Give them something to eat yourselves!” The disciples replied, “We have nothing but five loaves and two fish. Or do you want us to go and buy food for all these people?” There were about five thousand gathered. Jesus said to the disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of fifty or so.” They did so and got them all seated. Then, taking the five loaves and two fishes, Jesus raised his eyes to heaven, said a blessing over them, broke them and gave them to the disciples for distribution to the crowd. They all ate until they were satisfied and, when the leftovers were collected, there were twelve baskets full.
Priests for Equality. The Inclusive Bible. Sheed & Ward.
As the day wore on, the Twelve came to Jesus. “Send the crowd away,” they said, “so that they can go into the villages and countryside nearby, find somewhere to stay, and get something to eat. We’re in quite a lonely spot here.” “You give them something to eat,” he replied. “All we’ve got here,” they said, “is five loaves and a couple of fish—unless you mean we should go ourselves and buy food for all these people?” (There were about five thousand men.) “Get them to sit down,” Jesus said to them, “in groups of around fifty each.” They did so, and everyone sat down. Then Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up to heaven, blessed the food, divided it, and gave it to the disciples to pass around the crowd. Everyone ate and was satisfied. They took up twelve baskets of broken bits left over.
Wright, N. T.. The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation. HarperCollins.
The day began to draw to a close. The Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they can go and get lodging and food in the towns and farms around here, because where we are is a remote place.” But he said to them, “Give them something to eat, yourselves!” They said, “We have no more than five loaves of bread and two fish — unless we ourselves are supposed to go and buy food for all these people!” (For there were about five thousand men.) He said to his talmidim, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did what he told them and had them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish and, looking up toward heaven, made a b’rakhah, broke the loaves and began giving them to the talmidim to distribute to the crowd. Everyone ate as much as he wanted; and they took up what was left over, twelve baskets full of broken pieces.
Stern, David H.. Complete Jewish Bible: An English Version of B’rit Hadashah (New Testament)


THOUGHTS FOR CONTEMPLATION

In the story sharing the miracle of Jesus multiplying the 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5 thousand men, and yet having full baskets of food, we often miss the point. 

The sign of this multiplication is a revelation of a God who provides. In our humanity there are but 5 loaves and 2 fish. In God's Kin-Dom there is food enough for all and then some. The spendthrift nature of God's provision is the very thing we are to trust.

But, that point is obscured to some degree in the text. As it is clearly pointed out, the numbering of people as 5,000 is not a fair census. It was, as the text indicates, the number of men who were present there. 

What about the women? If husband was accompanied by a wife, what about the children that would have needed to be present, as well.

Basically, we have a narrative that expressed the vastness, in never falling short, of God's caring for God's people. Still, how much more would the message resound if the numbering was inclusive? If the point is that there was enough for everyone, then everyone needs to be counted. Men and women, might have made it 10,000. Men and women with children might have made it 20,000 or more.

In a day and age when we note how exclusive the Church and our spirituality has become, we need to rethink our understanding of God and the Kin-dom. In a time and context of expressing our desire to expand the table because we want to make sure there is room for all, we must reread and redeem the story so that it speaks the truth.

This particular narrative is sufficient proof that the Scriptures contain the bias and discrimination of a male dominated culture and society. For more than 2,000 years of Christian history (not including all that preceded) the male as authority figure has not only be unfaithful to Scripture, but to the God who spoke in Kin-Dom mathematics.

Jesus prayed. he took the five loaves and the two fish and, looking up toward heaven, made a b’rakhah. Jesus sought God's blessed upon that which was a common, ordinary meal. Giving thanks and naming God as the One who provides, the limited became unlimited. The ordinary became special. The common became community.

The lesson challenges us men to let go of all our bias and discrimination. It makes clear the reality that we are to be people who liberate the oppressed, renouncing privilege and celebrating the empowering of women, people of color, and those who do not fit within our binary and gender role suppositions. 

If there was ever a time that called for a repentance and transformation, this is the time for men to wake up. It is time for men to sit-down and shut-up. It is a time for relinquishing our sense of strata and status. It is time for equality and an equity of access to all, and for all.

God's love demands justice. God's love demands peace. God's love demands that all walls, all bias, all exclusion, all discrimination, all status quo systems, all structures of division, and all presence of hatred be eliminated.

The multiplication of the Kin-Dom seeks to make things right. Will we follow in its way?





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