“They were like sheep without a shepherd.”
When sheep do not have the boundaries of a field fence, or the guidance of a shepherd to direct them, they wander and range without concern or care. They follow their nose, looking for food, not noticing if they are near a cliff or a bunch of bramble.
As broken human beings, we struggle to keep ourselves oriented toward our Creator. We wander and waver, following a path for no other reason than that it was under our feet. We seek out things the world tells us are good, even if they lead us close to cliffs and gnarly undergrowth.
Jesus and his disciples had just disembarked from a boat they used to escape to a deserted place to rest and recover after much preaching and healing. But the people, who had found in Jesus something attractive, something real, someone to follow, came after them. Jesus observes them coming into this deserted place as sheep would, no plans or preparations, they were just following the trail of something good.
Rather than send them back, Jesus takes pity on them and begins to preach. We all know this story well. The people have no food, the disciples find a few simple loaves and fish, Jesus blesses them and the miracle occurs. This passage from Mark, and its counterparts in the other three Gospels, have been the source of much biblical and theological scholarship. Usually the focus is on the Eucharistic element of the breaking of the bread and the community sharing in the miracle.
Branching off from that point, I would like to turn your attention to the deserted area the people came to. They were drawn by Christ’s presence there, led by His previous teachings and hungering for more. They came without a plan, not knowing what they would hear or do next. They simply came. And when they were hungry, they turned to Jesus and his disciples with trust and expectation.
This simple faith is all that Jesus needs to work miracles in our lives. We are constantly being called by Jesus to come follow Him. However, He doesn’t always tell us where we are going, who will be coming with us, what we should bring and what we ought to leave behind. He asks us to trust in God’s Providence to provide for our needs. No matter where we are led, God will provide for us, perhaps in ways we do not expect. No one would have ever expected the gift of the Eucharist, yet this Sacrament of Sacraments has sustained the Church through good and bad, through arid deserts and flourishing community.
We may be like sheep, but we do have a Shepherd, if we choose to follow Him.
Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mother. She is blessed to be able to homeschool, bake bread and fold endless piles of laundry. When not planning a school day, writing a blog post or cooking pasta, Kate can be found curled up with a book or working with some kind of fiber craft. Kate blogs at DailyGraces.net.
Feature Image Credit: LoggaWiggler, https://pixabay.com/photos/wadi-rum-negev-negev-desert-jordan-3030/