Are you sensing a theme in this week’s blog posts? I’m not sure I’ve ever spent a whole week on one word in a lesson, but it seems as though we’re 3/4 of the way there already. It seems to be striking a cord with y’all as well. Due to to some technical difficulties over at the Text this Week, I’ve fallen out of the usual rotation. This doesn’t mean much, really, except my daily readership dropped by about 2/3rds from 150 a day to roughly 60 over the past few weeks. Thanks to my readers who are keen to share these posts, however, my first two posts on compassion have spike my stats this week with 111 views on Monday and a whopping 240 yesterday! It seems that compassion, or at least blog posts about compassion, have a way of overflowing.
Of course, we see that vividly in Sunday’s Gospel lesson, the Feeding of the 5,000. As I noted yesterday, Jesus is having a pretty crummy day when, as the hour grew late, his disciples realized that there were way too many people and way too little food. “Send them to the villages to grab a bite,” they say to Jesus, but he’ll hear nothing of it. “You give them something to eat,” he responds. That verb “to give” is in imperative aorist, which somebody much smarter than me tells me means “it is the urgent aorist of instant action.” “Do it, and do it now,” Jesus says to his worried disciples. He takes the small offering that they have – five loaves and two fish – and according to the Jewish table custom, blesses the meal and breaks the bread, and 5,000 men plus women and children eat until they are full up.
The story could end there and be sufficient as one of Jesus’ greatest miracles, but it doesn’t. Matthew goes on to tell us that the disciples went back around to collect up the leftovers, not the crumbs, but the broken pieces handed out to be shared, and they filled up 12 baskets! What started as compassion for a hurting people turned into an event in which the sick were healed, thousands upon thousands were fed, and a dozen baskets of leftovers were collected! Compassion certainly has a way of overflowing.
I’m reminded of the old Liberty Mutual “Do the Right Thing” ad campaign, were one act of concern acted as a butterfly effect to change the course of an entire city in a day, and I can’t help but wonder, are my eyes open to opportunities to share compassion, or am I just focused on my own stuff?