The Father Knows What We Need
Reflection on Mark 14-21
“I’m famished,” Philip says, as he looks out over the water, glinting in the sunlight.
“We just ate,” James replies.
“That was a couple of hours ago, now,” Philip contends. “And it’s been a busy day.”
“Our days are always busy,” Andrew adds in, as he rifles through the Apostles’ small pile of belongings. “Wait, did anyone bring the leftover bread? I only see one loaf here.”
“I thought you were going to,” Peter replies.
“Me? I was busy getting the boat ready.”
This sparks a lively discussion among the Twelve about just whose responsibility it was to pack dinner and how they will go about finding something to eat. One loaf for thirteen…it is certainly not enough.
Jesus’ thoughts, meanwhile, are elsewhere. “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod,” He tells His companions. Before embarking, He was challenged by a group of Pharisees seeking a sign from Him. A sign, after all the healings and driving out of demons, not to mention the recent multiplication of bread for thousands of people!
“We have no bread,” murmurs Philip. “It’s because we forgot the bread.” Another discussion begins among the Twelve.
But Jesus is not worried about their next meal. He knows the Father will provide. Far more concerning to Him is the hardness of heart He has encountered. Aware, though, of His Apostles’ worry, He reminds them of the miracles they have witnessed. “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread?... And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”
“Twelve,” they reply.
“And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”
And they say, “Seven.”
“Do you not yet understand?”
* * *
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink…. Is not life more than food…? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?... Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’… your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well…. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow….” The Apostles had heard these words, spoken by Jesus to them. They had also seen Him multiply bread. And yet, in a new moment of need, a new crisis, they seem to have forgotten what they had seen and heard.
While I would like to shake my head at the Apostles, I realize I really shouldn’t…for I am often as forgetful. These days it seems easier than ever to be preoccupied and worried—even fearful—about the future. We make plans (as we must), only to see them so often fall through. Things are uncertain; who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Well, God knows. I cannot be sure even of what will happen in an hour, but I can be sure of this: God is faithful. And He, Emmanuel, is with us. It is important to call to mind the ways God has provided in the past, the particular ways He has cared for me in my own life. It reminds me that, as He has never failed to provide for me in the past, neither will He abandon me in the future. This moves me to, once again, place my trust in Him.
If the Apostles had remembered the multiplication of the loaves, I think it would have given them confidence that never would they go hungry as long as they stayed with Jesus. In fact, they would want for nothing they needed. But is it not the same for you and me? Let us stay by His side. Let us recall, when uncertainties seem overwhelming, the ways God has been with us in our lives. And know He will always be there to provide what we need.
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose....
You have prepared a banquet for me....
Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
All the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
For ever and ever. (Psalm 23)
Sr. Cecilia Francis, CFR