Daily Devotion Friday, August 18, 2017
He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 15: 35-38
A Word of Hope
In the 1990s, I first read Susan Faludi’s Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women and had a hard time existing for months. That’s because in today’s terms I was “woke” to just how sexist the world was around me. I couldn’t go to movies without seeing how poorly women are treated in so many flicks. I couldn’t get through work as a reporter without noticing things like women being called chairmen or everyday life without hearing about mankind. And of course, I likely was getting paid less because I had ovaries. It was a great awakening for someone who thought she wasn’t a feminist just a few years earlier in college.
Of course, most of the rest of the world didn’t know or want to know just how biased the world was and still is toward women. Just recently a guy told me that he only knew angry feminists. Sexism is kind of a drag that many don’t want to face. I bet some of you are already tuning out. What is this feminist stuff in my daily devotion? How is that holy? But what better time to discuss it than this story about a miracle that only counts the 4,000 men there. See even, maybe especially, holy texts are not feminist friendly; too often. Here only the men are counted … what does that say? Imagine not counting enough to be counted… have you experienced that?
In feminist circles, one of the more productive things we do is try to re-imagine what this day might have actually looked like if it were told by say Jesus, who was super-woman friendly, or a woman in attendance, rather than a man there. This is what may have just happened…
In addition to the 4,000 men, there were about 6,000 women (more because women saw Jesus as a liberator for them) and about another 12,000 kids (because where else would kids be but next to their parents?). Jesus mentioned to the men around him that they should feed everyone. They pulled out a few loaves and fish … and said, this is all we have. And then Jesus, laughing, blessed them, and said, “Have you talked to the women? They are always prepared.” And from there, the women pulled out their stashes to add to the blessed food to share because who would leave home without snacks? The women wouldn’t. And by the time they all shared, they had enough for all the men and children, too, with plenty left.
In this re-imagining, the miracle is giving women the credit for what they did – feeding the people. In some ways, I think this is the superior miracle to Jesus miraculously multiplying the loaves and fishes. Perhaps that’s blasphemy but I’ll risk it because I think Jesus wanted us to create a world where the people are fed by each other, not only by him, not just by God. I think Jesus saw women and men as equal and probably hung out with women much more than is recorded.
Creator, help us re-imagine the world in new ways so that we might feed each other, as you intended.