Most of the time, the we get into discussions about whether this “actually” happened or whether the story serves as metaphor for a deeper “feeding.” The metaphor is indeed a powerful teaching.
Imagine the time. You are going about your daily business when word is spread throughout the village that that powerful speaker, the one some call prophet, has been spotted nearby. You and perhaps members of your family decide to go and see for yourselves if what they say about him is at all true.
You see a crowd gathering and as you forward, you spot this rather ordinary looking man who is speaking. You begin to listen, and soon you have lost track of all time as his words stir something deep within you.
As he moves, so do you. You are not thinking of the fact that you have missed a meal, you simply find this man compelling and want to hear more.
This story is not one of simple-minded folk who are so incompetent they forgot to pack a lunch for their excursion to “see the healer”. They are folks who merely decided to take a few moments to go and “take a look” and got hooked by man who turned out to be far more than they could imagine. It is not about food. It is about ideas.
There is a scene in The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, where the beaten down and literally emotionally destroyed Lithuanian, Jurgis goes into a political meeting to get warm from the winter cold. He suddenly is so mesmerized by the speaker who seems to understand his entire life history that he forgets everything else but the need to learn more. Once having given up all hope in life, he finds his purpose once more. He finds the answers he needs to make life worth living again.
We are all like Jurgis in some degree. Since the first human being raised her eyes to the heavens at the mouth of some cave and looked upon the stars and wondered, “who am I, where did I come from, and how did this all come to be?” we have asked the same basic questions. We long to understand, we long for meaning. We long to have a reason to go on in a world that seems arbitrarily mean and cruel all too often. Bad things happen to good people and that is a fact.
Those who forgot their own hunger in pursuit of this man who offered them answers, were only doing what humans have done throughout the ages.
We don’t always search in the same place however. Some search in science and hope that its answers will give meaning to life. But scientists, I think, in the end confess that human understanding can only proceed so far back. Ultimate answers may never be knowable. Some find meaning in creating their own universe of family and possessions. Others find meaning in experiencing as much of life as they can squeeze into a normal lifetime. Some wish to create something that will stand as their legacy, either material or in service.
We are creatures who crave meaning. Tell us that life is nothing more than a series of accidents and arbitrary events and we go away sorely disappointed. The reason is obvious. Life is often not easy. It is sometimes difficult, and sometimes mean. If there is no reason for it all, then the question becomes, why do we bother at all?
Because this question is so important to us, we are easily victimized by those whose purpose is to gain something from us. Power and money are strong incentives to deceive. We are all too susceptible to the grifter and the false prophet.
Jesus, with his simple message, was believed. Perhaps it was the simplicity, the honesty with which it was orated. Perhaps it was as Paul points out in his letter to the Ephesians, because Jesus and his followers lived as they preached. They were different. They lived simply, consorted with common people, did not ask for “contributions” to assist the “ongoing mission.”
It is said, you will know them by their fruits. In other words, no one need proclaim their allegiance to Jesus. It will be obvious by the way one lives and interacts with the world. Those who have been given meaning will give meaning. Those would have indeed been fed, will feed.
Have you been fed?
- The Meaning of Life (thoughtsfromacatholic.wordpress.com)
- 7/29/2012 Come and Be Fed (richbrownforewords.wordpress.com)
- What is the Meaning of Life? (andreasnest.wordpress.com)
- Jesus, Poverty, and Farm Bill 6083 (bloggingwithjane.wordpress.com)