13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus said, “she should be given something to eat.” That’s a unique detail in this story of healing and restored life from the Gospel of Mark 5:21-43. Some scripture commentators even breeze over this closing line of the chapter. I, too, may have missed it, save for the fact that my task here is to write a “eucharistic” reflection. And anytime Jesus speaks of food or shares food, eucharistic possibilities surface.
Where else in scripture does Jesus instruct people to feed someone? The gospel stories of the feeding of the multitudes come to mind. For example, in Matthew 14:16, when the disciples want to send away the people who had gathered to listen to Jesus, Jesus tells them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” We may also think of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to Peter when he asked him, “Do you love me?” (John 21:17). Jesus then instructs him, “Feed my sheep.” We can also likely think of other instances where feeding others, especially those in need, is praised and shown to be one of the primary aspects of Christian discipleship: “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat” (Matthew 25:35-40). So, what then are we to make of Jesus’ instruction to feed the girl?
Interestingly, in many of the examples of Jesus’ instruction to “feed,” physical feeding is accompanied by spiritual feeding. They go together. Before feeding the multitudes, Jesus had first lifted their spirits through his teaching. In the story of Peter, Jesus first ate with him on the seashore. He then offered him spiritual healing by way of forgiveness. What Jesus is saying after restoring the girl’s life is to feed her body and her spirit. Help her grow in faith to know she is a beloved daughter of God. This may be stretching the text a little; however, it’s not stretching who we are called to be as Jesus’ disciples.
Let Us Pray
Gracious God, Your Son Jesus, feeds our body and our spirit in many ways, especially in the Eucharist. Send your Holy Spirit to help us be attentive to the opportunities we have, to feed others in body and spirit. We ask this as disciples of Christ our Lord. Amen.
Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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