Our scripture this week is Matthew 14:13-21
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. 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 the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
This passage begins with Jesus and the disciples withdrawing to a solitary place (v. 13). He had just received word that King Herod had executed John the Baptist and even Jesus needed time to process this news. He knew the value of time alone with God and time spent with His disciples away from the crowds. Although it didn’t work out that way in this instance, Jesus is telling us to take a break now and then.
We may not see it now, but there has been a blessing of slowing down in this virus we face. It has caused us examine our actions in light of our own safety and that of others. While we may have different feelings about particular protective measures, we have all paused to think about what needs to be done. It has also made us spend time to those closest to us, perhaps rediscovering old activities at home or finding new ones to occupy our time.
My hope is that when the pandemic passes, we will have learned new things about our relationship with God and each other. While it may seem harsh as we go through it, perhaps it can bring us new perspectives about how we treat our brothers and sisters. The “solitary place” that we inhabit now can be the inspiration for better ways of serving.
Loving Lord, teach us Your ways. Let us learn to use the gifts You have given us to better serve Your creation. Amen.