Thursday, January 30, 2014

YOU Give Them Something To Eat

In my church's Tuesday morning Bible study class (which, by the by, I am so freaking proud of...this past Tuesday, literally every single seat at the (very large) table was taken.  Bible study at this church has been growing so much, it's great to see), we are spending the "year" (September-May, just like school) reading verse-by-verse through the Gospel of Mark.

This past Tuesday, we read in chapter 8 the second account of Jesus feeding a multitude--this time of 4,000 men plus untold numbers of women and  children (the account of the 5,000 is in Mark 6).  Both I and the commentary we use were keen to emphasize the disciples' intransigence in this story--even though they had just seen Jesus perform an identical miracle two chapters ago, they still cannot begin to entertain the possibility that He might do it again when they say "How can anyone get enough food in this wilderness to satisfy these people?" (Mark 8:4, CEB)

You know that Batman-slapping-Robin meme that people use to debunk all the stupid sh*t that everybody says?  You know, this one...yeah, I think that would about fit the bill for how Jesus probably reacted to His disciples' general dumbassery.  In the Mark 6 accounting of the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus basically has this reaction the first time around when He tells His disciples--upon them lodging the same objection with Him and wanting the crowds to fend for themselves--"YOU give them something to eat." (Mark 6:37, CEB, emphasis mine)

YOU give them something to eat.

I love it.  It's simple, pointed, and directly addresses the problem at hand: a lack of empathy for the very people the disciples were supposed to be serving.

It is, I have to think, the rebuke Jesus would probably dust off and reuse to tell off the school officials at Uintah Elementary School in Salt Lake City, Utah, where 40-some kids were, very publicly, stripped of their school lunches and given a piece of fruit to eat because, officials said, their accounts had a past-due balance.

Now, I'm not a healthcare professional in any way, shape or form, but I am engaged to one, plus, I'm not a complete moron, so even I realize that milk and fruit does not a complete lunch make.  A complete lunch needs vegetables or salad, and hopefully some source of whole-grain carbohydrates.  So let's dispense with the "We don't ever let kids go without food entirely" refrain.  School lunch--or any lunch--should not be simply about making your stomach full, it needs to be about being filled with particular nutrients.

And especially where kids are concerned, that need has to come before financial considerations.  Every time.

Call me a bleeding heart if you want.  Tell me that we have to teach children accountability if you wish.  But know this: when the disciples spoke to Jesus about feeding, cumulatively, 9,000 men (plus, again, untold numbers of women and children), Jesus did not respond with some version of, "Those freeloaders need to learn personal responsibility."

He responded with, "You give them something to eat."

And so to the adults at Uintah Elementary who decided to take away 40-odd kids' lunches (especially to you, anonymous child nutrition manager who I'm pretty sure drinks baby seal tears in their spare time), I say the exact same words that Jesus said to His disciples.

You're concerned that the kids owe your school a few bucks?  Fine.

Then you, personally, give them something to eat.  Something that isn't just an orange.  Something that doesn't humiliate them in front of their friends.  Something that nourishes their growing bodies.

And if you're not willing to do that, then get the hell outta the way.

*mic drop*

Yours in Christ,

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