Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
When the lectionary cuts out an important story in the middle of the text it does a disservice to the story and to those who hear it! Jesus' command that the disciples feed those gathered is an important part of this story. This cut out story seems to be the script that many people have today about why the poor should help themselves. Yet Jesus responds, despite the cost: "You give them something to eat" (v. 37).
Don't argue about how they got here, if they should have planned better, about how much it will cost or if it will split the church. Just feed them!
In much of my work with those living in poverty or who are homeless it has often felt like the obvious thing to do is just staring everyone in the face:
People without homes -- give them homes
people without food --- give them food
people with out clothes --- give them clothes
people without health care --- give them health care
You can see where I'm going with this. And I can hear the questions now: but what if they use it for bad purposes? Or what if they just waste it (after all if they were able to use things appropriately they wouldn't be in this space now)?
Perhaps. But people living in emergency situations, don't have the privilege of time to figure out what your budget should look like, if there is a better way to use the money or the color of the carpet in the room where the service happens.
Perhaps giving people the basic needs that are required for a healthy life may lead some people to be able to make choices we wouldn't condone. But thankfully, when I'm given my paycheck each week no one asks me how healthy the groceries I will buy are or if I will get any exercise this week before they give me my check.
No, we seem to want to control other people choices, but don't want people to control our own choices. If you have money you can choose from so many different types of milk that there is an entire aisle of milk. But, those who do not have money we seek to take away what little choices they do have (for fear they'll make a poor decision).
I happen to believe that giving people the things they need to be healthy is what we ought to do. We can't know or control what people will do with the things we give them. But that doesn't mitigate our very real responsibility to share what we have, with those who have less. And I find that when we do, those in very real need - more often than not- will use what we have shared in appropriate ways.
At WELCOME this is our mission. And we have a huge increase in the number of people who are begging for food right now. Help us to meet the growing need. Jesus commanded us to feed them. If you can please support our work, or volunteer so that we don't have to turn anyone away.
Proper 11B/Ordinary 16B/Pentecost 7