“Gather the fragments left over”

When they were satisfied, he [Jesus] told his disciples, “gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered up them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left my those who had eaten they filled twelve baskets. (St. John 6:12–13—NRSV)

Take a Moment

Human beings have created a world where we manage to make many people feel small and insignificant. There are many people in the world who feel like they don’t belong, and no one cares for them. There are many who believe that they do not count, because no one pays attention or listens to their stories.

The story of the “Feeding of the Five Thousand”, with five barley loaves and two fish is well known to many. It is a story where Jesus feeds a large crowd with limited resources. As we read this story it is easy to see the sign/miracle of all the people (5000+) having more than enough to eat from two fish and five loaves. The people who experienced this miracle/sign were astonished by it and rightly so. However, there is a detail of the story that struck me (though written as a kind of ‘by-the-way’ moment) as significant in the narrative—this is when Jesus told his disciples, “gather the fragments left over, so nothing may be lost.” (Jn 6:13). It is curious to me that Jesus had interest in the fragments since the verse before (v. 12) stated that the people were satisfied, meaning they had more than enough to eat. While the people ostensibly had no interest in the fragments, because the main meal had filled their stomachs, Jesus, on the other hand, zeroed in on the leftovers/fragments. Leftovers are not always priority to us, they are usual disposable and we keep them if we feel like it. I believe Jesus teaching us a lesson, to pay attention to the things and people who are the least among us.

In paying attention to the fragments, Jesus is highlighting that he sees and cares for all. Jesus was not carried away by only the significant act of feeding, but also the seemingly inconsequential fragments, that seem to have no purpose since the people, were already full. In this act of gathering the fragments, Jesus is telling us that he cares for all, and nothing or no one is outside the bounds of his care, concern and compassion; nothing and no one is too small or too insignificant for God’s attention. If you feel like you do not matter in your community, workplace, school or family, just know that you matter to God in Jesus Christ. God loves you! God showed in Jesus Christ that he died for you, individually.  As Jesus Christ paid attention to fragments after feeding, he is paying attention to you now. If you know someone who feels that they are insignificant in their current situation, Jesus Christ wants to reach out them through you. It is for us to open ourselves to God in Christ, as God reaches out to us, so that we can reach out to others.  As we experience God’s love in Jesus Christ, let us help others to experience that same love and attention.

Take Action

  1. As you go about this week, pause for 1 minute each day and reflect on all that God has done in your life.
  2. As you go about each day, try to identify people who might need your attention for a listening ear or just to tell them hello.
  3. Think about who are the people you pass daily without even acknowledging their presence:
  4. The security guard who is at the door daily and you don’t know his/her name; the cleaner at your office, the person selling at the stall you pass each day etc.

A Moment in Prayer

God of the poor, friend of the weak, help me to know and feel your care and compassion for me, so that that I may share that same care and compassion with others. Help those who are feeling lonely and insignificant, those who are alone and neglected and enfold them in your loving care, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.