The other evening I saw a local news story about a tractor-trailer that collided with a train. There are photos of the badly damaged truck. Maybe it was too early to report all the details of the incident, but I was waiting to hear about the condition of the truck driver. I never did. That was an important detail about the story, but it was not in the report.
We can learn a lot from details. In the gospel reading in the liturgy today, the detail about Jesus having heard about the death of his cousin, John the Baptist, reminds us of the humanity of our Savior. He withdrew by himself, to be alone, probably to grieve, but the crowd of followers wanted his attention. How generous he was to be solicitous of them! His grief and his solitude did not come first.
We read another detail—that Jesus unselfishly reached out to the sick and healed them. He also paid attention to what time of day it was and was concerned about the hunger of the crowd. Jesus multiplied the five loaves and two fish, but we read the detail that he said a blessing first. Does that remind us to give thanks for our food, or do we save grace before meals for special family gatherings?
One more detail that is important is that the disciples picked up the leftovers after the crowd was satisfied. Do we waste food? Do we get careless about leftovers or too busy to plan well? Do we consider donating to our local food pantries or organizations that help to feed impoverished people? It is so easy to read or hear again about Jesus feeding the multitude and miss some of the subtle messages.
In order to notice and get the benefit of details, we have to try to be fully aware of what we hear or read. That is difficult sometimes, because we are often distracted or just too busy. In today’s world, it is hard to be in the moment and our best selves. I doubt we will have five thousand people to worry about at once!
Let us pray:
Jesus, help us to be aware of the needs of the people we encounter and give
us generous hearts. Make us aware of the details that suggest opportunities to
spread your healing compassion. Send Your Holy Spirit to enlighten our busy
minds so that we can be more like you. May we use our giftedness to exemplify
grateful servitude and gentle love. We ask all this in your precious name. Amen.
Painting: Jesus Feeding Multitudes, Bernardo Strozzi (1581-1644) Public domain.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.