Feeding the 5,000

Posted on February 11, 2012


Feeding the 5,000

The Sixth Sunday in the Season of Galilee

In the Church “en la lucha”

You don’t know what you could have, because you don’t know what you already have……You don’t know what you could be, because you don’t know what you already are


Jesus said “They have eyes, but they don’t see.” I believe that this applies to this generation and to the next generation that is growing up – and it breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart because, especially the next generation, doesn’t see what they could be, As for my generation, we are so busy trying to survive, to keep our heads above water, that when we do get a moment of peace, we just want to relax and to forget everything.

We are living now, this year, in the season of Galilee. In the time of Jesus during this season, Jesus was announcing that “the kingdom of God was near” – that is, he was telling the people that it was within them to live in the Kingdom of God, to realize the power and peace and healing of the Kingdom among them, in their lives.

But for the most part, they didn’t see it. Jesus was especially concerned with the 12 disciples because he was building his movement on their leadership, leadership that will be needed when he is crucified – as he knows he will be.

I have known in my life great leaders who have been in this situation; who knew somehow that they would be killed, that they would soon die. And they were determined to plant in the hearts and minds of their closest followers their vision of the future, the future of their people…I heard King and Malcolm when they spoke like this, and there were others. I can feel the hope – and the frustration in the words of Jesus as I felt it in theirs.

Now remember from last week, that Jesus had become angry at Peter. Jesus had been explaining, predicting his own death. Peter said “No Lord” we can’t let this happen. We can’t go where you will be crucified” Why? Because Peter wanted to rise up with Jesus, to be beside him when he became a king. Instead, Jesus was saying he would die and be shamed. So when Peter spoke, Jesus became angry and said, “Get behind me Satan.”

Jesus was telling Peter not to tempt him, for Jesus knew what he had to do – and he knew what it took to save his people. And he told the disciples, that he is greatest who serves all; and those will gain life who give up their lives for their people.


Now this week, Jesus is preaching to a large crowd of about 5,000 people. They are in the wilderness, far from any town. It grows dark. The disciples interrupt Jesus and tell him that they he should send the people away. Again Jesus is angry, frustrated.

Why? Because the disciples are thinking about themselves. They don’t want to spend the little money they have on food for the people. They don’t want to share their own food. They are tired and want the meeting to be over.

How could they miss what is going on? How could they not see what is going on? This is Jesus Christ preaching the Good News of the Kingdom, filling up the people with wisdom and the Holy Spirit!

Like us, they have eyes but they can’t see. What is going on? Listen to what Jesus tells the disciples. Take the fish and the loaves you have and share it with the people. Show them by the example of your sacrifice, your service, how to share, how to sacrifice for each other. Then they will share what they have. And when the disciples did that, everyone had enough to eat and there was in fact plenty left over for the disciples. You see, the people already had what they needed, they only had to learn how to share it with each other; they only had to think of themselves as part of a great people.

Jesus told the disciples, “Give what you have, show the people how to sacrifice for each other, and you will receive even more than you already had in the beginning!”

Jesus showed them, but only a few days later, in front of another crowd of 4,000, the disciples again wanted to send the people away. Would they never learn!

Jesus wanted the people to see that they could be a great people, a powerful and righteous people, if they would join together and take care of each other. He wanted the disciples to learn to teach the people by example.

When we think about our future, when we try to see our future, we think only about ourselves. Jesus taught that we could only achieve greatness when our people achieve greatness.

Do you see? The disciples had plenty of bread when they taught the people, by their own example, to organize themselves in groups of 50 and 100, to work together, to share what they had together, and to learn together to live by the Word of God that Jesus was preaching.

The people who were gathered there were the poor of Galilee. They were illegal. They were used and disrespected. Yet they were the people that God brought up from Egypt; for whom he had separated the waters so they could escape from slavery. They were the people that God chose to be a light to all the nations. They already were a great people; they just had to know who they were. They already had what they needed to be great; they just had to understand what they already had.

And most importantly, they had to learn to sacrifice for each other; to learn that the future of each was bound up with the future of the whole people.


Only sixty years ago, the world looked down on the Chinese. They laughed at their revolution. It was one of the poorest nations in the world. But the Chinese relied on themselves. They organized themselves. Each town joined together and struggled to depend on each other and be self-reliant. Now look at them. They are the most feared and the most envied nation in the world. While the rich nations are in economic crisis, the Chinese is growing more powerful every day. And the United States, where everyone is out for himself, is slipping down into the mud.


This nation we live in calls itself the greatest nation in the world – and it says that the system of each individual going it alone is the best system in the world. Yet it is the system that has created the greatest gap in wealth between the 1 percent at the top and the 99 percent who struggle. And it is falling apart!


What would Jesus tell you today? What would Jesus try to make you see with your eyes? I see families trying to make it on their own, living right next to other families trying to make it on their own. Neither is making it but they are not working together.

I see young people who can’t see further than their neighborhoods and a few friends – caught up in gossip and petty fights and vanity-and telling their life stories on facebook.

But sometimes, when there is a crisis, we seem to come together. We are not there when a young man is throwing his life away in the gangs – but everybody comes to his funeral.

I was in Dallas earlier this week. I led a workshop for 150 pastors from all over Texas prosecutorial discretion – the policy we won from the Obama administration that can save millions from deportations if we learn how to use it. There was a great spirit of unity there. People were hungry for the knowledge they needed to save their people. And later this week I was in New York, in several workshops for pastors and community volunteers. And they were sharing what they had to save their families. The people were learning how to work together to defend those who were under attack.

I told the pastors something. I said we were looking at the immigraton issue in the wrong way. This is not about individuals coming across the border for the American dream of individual opportunity. No. The reality of millions of people fighting to keep their families together in a nation where the family is falling apart – those millions are messengers from God, carrying an offer of redemption to a lost nation. If that nation does not welcome this offer it will die.

God has brought millions across the desert. God has formed millions of new families here and millions of children have been born to those families. Like the Israelites of old, for generations, God has brought people here because there was “famine”, economic problems, in their own countries. He has brought them here to make them a great people.


You already have everything you need if you join together. You already are what you can be – if you are willing to sacrifice for each other.

We are working to screen 10,000 people for treatable diseases to close the 20 year life gap. If we do the hard work this year to accomplish this, than we will have a force to negotiate with the hospitals. And we will have a force next year to change the national health policy which excludes millions in our community. Our problem is that, like the disciples, we don’t see what we can do and so we don’t really get the work done. Like the disciples we want to go home and send the people away.

Familia Latina Unida calls for its members to come together in groups of five to ten families – to share their resources and their efforts to survive- and to organize for change. La Fuerza Juventud calls for young people to come together in groups of 10 to 20, to form crews, to organize for their community. Remember that Jesus first told the disciples to organize the people in groups of 50’s and 100’s. Then he called on the disciples to show the people how to share what they have.

If the disciples – if we ourselves – could only see that we rise or fall as our people rise and fall. Alone you are individuals to be used by the rich and thrown away. Together, in unity and righteousness before God, you are the future.  If you take what you have and use it to organize your groups of five to ten families, your crews of 10 to twenty young people, then you will find that “there are twelve baskets left over.”

If you just join the pieces together, the arms and legs that make up a people, a people with a common history, a common struggle, a common oppressor, a common people – and a common faith – then God will breathe on you as he did in the valley of the bones and you will rise up together as a mighty people, a light to the nations.

You already are what you can be. You already have what you can have. You just need eyes to see the abundance, the life, the purpose, that God has given you. For He is your God and he wants you to be His people.


Amen?  Amen!  Amen!!!


The Scriptures for the Sixth Sunday  in the Season of Galilee

Ezekiel 37:7-12 The Valley of Dry Bones

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.  I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.  Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’  Therefore prophesy and say to them: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.


Mark 6:32-44  Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages[a]! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.” Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied,  and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.


Mark 8:1-13  Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said,  “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.  If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”  “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied. He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them.  The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away,  he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha. The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven.  He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.”  Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

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