Feeding of the Crowds: Guided Meditation



Reading
During the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children finally slept in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, “Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.” Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life,  Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Matthew Linn 

The Gospel Matthew 14: 13-21
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. 

Guided Meditation 
I invite you to reflect on the Gospel story, as if you were one of Jesus’ disciples. It may help to read it slowly, pausing as you feel led. Close the exercise with the Our Father.

It’s a sunny, breezy, late morning on the lake. Soon, I will be breaking bread with Jesus, the first time since the disturbing news of John’s beheading. While I gather at the table with the others, I ask, “where is Jesus?” I run out to see Jesus, who is wading out to a boat anchored off the beach. Quickly, he climbs in, then rows farther offshore. I call to him and track him from the shoreline. Jogging along the crest of the slope, I stop at a lookout point to catch my breath. I see a huge, hidden cove below: a beach teaming with thousands of people. The crowd extends from the water up the slopes. In amazement, I carefully walk down the sand and rocks… 

I spot Jesus standing at the water’s edge, healing and curing everyone he can touch. He takes time to be with each person. From the youngest to the oldest, in families or by themselves, they come. There is no one with Jesus’ compassion and determination. He is like a good shepherd who loves and protects his sheep no matter what. I am moved to tears, tears of gratitude and joy… 

As the afternoon light wanes, I hear someone say “It’s almost evening now.” Another one wants Jesus to send everyone away. I overhear Jesus’ reply, “Don’t send anyone away. You give them something to eat.”  A boy has brought a small serving of smoked fish and bread. He shares what he has, bringing it to Jesus. I hear Jesus’ words to us, “We are a free people. Thanks be to God for the bread we need. Everyone, please find a place on the green grass. There is room for all.” Today, even though everything seems to be against us, God’s presence is here, and I feel a peace and safety deep in my soul… 

I see Jesus giving thanks over the food. He then starts to break the bread into family size pieces. I hear Jesus say, “Blessed are you when you are kind and merciful to others.” When I receive my piece of bread, I pass it along. The pace quickens as more and more bread is passed. As far as I can see, people are eating to their contentment. All are having their fill! What an unbelievable sight! Joy overwhelms me...

As the crowd begins to break up, the many conversations trail off into the twilight, I join some friends. We gather the leftovers. There’s enough extra for the few of us, but right now, that doesn’t seem important. I’m bursting with thanksgiving for Jesus. Somehow this day has renewed my hope. I feel fully loved and alive. I dedicate myself to loving God and friends, family- even people I dislike or who dislike me. My heart overflows with love...

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