Blue spring flowers on the Cathedral grounds

Mark 8:1-12

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way– and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.”

If we were invited to make a list of the concerns, needs and challenges that are present in this generation, the list would be long. No matter how you might identify, divide or illustrate the communities that make up our collective culture, there are unique concerns immediately evident. Mark’s gospel calls our attention to the community that has gathered together to listen to the teachings of Jesus. Many within this crowd have traveled a great distance just to hear his truth. After three days, it was time to depart. Recognizing the journey that many had to travel to return to their homes and the physical need of food that was evident, Jesus miraculously used the loaves and the few fish to feed a crowd of four thousand. It would be easy to focus quickly on the miracle of the loaves and few fish or the baskets that have been left over and allow that to be the focus of our concern while asking ourselves, “How did Jesus accomplish this?” It is also possible to be drawn to the Pharisees’ need for a sign that concludes our reading. All these points could be the focus of our concern as we teach, preach, write and question the signs.

Jesus’ concern was not limited to himself. His teaching was not offered so that we might satisfy our individual concerns and needs. Jesus’ concern and His actions included a concern for others. The gospel Jesus shared invited us to join Him in this work. Throughout this Lenten Season, our concern and our work should not be limited to ourselves, but for the people we encounter and the world in which we live.


I’m pressing on the upward way, New heights I’m gaining every day; Still praying as I onward bound, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” Lord, lift me up, and let me stand By faith on Canaan’s tableland; A higher plane than I have found, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

“Higher Ground”, Johnson Oatman Jr. 1898