“Not until one person desires to keep his own bread for himself does hunger ensue. This is a strange divine law. May not the story of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand with two fishes and five loaves have, along with many others, this meaning also?”
Those are the words of the German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer and they form part of his work Life Together. This book, published in 1939, was written for the purpose of describing what the life of the Christian community should look like and drew on Bonhoeffer’s own experiences as a professor at the Finkenwalde Seminary, an underground seminary run by the Confessing Church in Germany until it was shut down by the National Socialist government.
Bonhoeffer’s concern in the section from which the above quote is taken, is focused on the community eating together, and on how when the community is working as it should, there is no hunger within the community, because the community makes sure that everyone has bread to share.
In Matthew’s account of the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus’s disciples come to him with the practical approach to the problem. Why don’t we call it a day for now, and let the people go to the surrounding villages and find something there for themselves.
Instead of doing that Jesus asks them what is available where they are. The answer is not particularly encouraging they have only five loaves and two fishes. When it gets right down to it, the food isn’t even enough to feed the disciples, let alone the entire crowd of people who are gathered there.
It turns out, however, that this will be enough. Jesus takes the bread, says a blessing, breaks it and after it is given to the disciples, the whole crowd is fed and there are still 12 baskets left over. It is enough, for all that is required is for the disciples to let go and turn the food over to Jesus.
I wonder if the reason we don’t see more miracles, and I’ll let you decide for yourself how you wish to define that word, is an unwillingness on our part to let go. If we all, including our leaders, were willing to let go I think we might see a few more miracles, maybe even ones as big as an end to the famine in the Horn of Africa? Thoughts?