Today’s lectionary readings have to do with food.
In Number 11: 4-15, the children of Israel in the desert are sick and tired of eating manna and complain to Moses. We want what we had in Egypt: meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, garlic. But all we’ve got is this God-forsaken manna.
In the Gospel, Matthew 14: 13-21, also in a deserted place, the disciples see that the people are hungry and want to send them away – everyone on their own. But Jesus tells them to feed the people themselves. The disciples are confused: they only have five loaves and two fish. But with this Jesus feeds the crowd – five thousand men, not counting women and children.
In the desert, the children of Israel are obsessing about their own food. But in a deserted place, Jesus is thinking about the food of others.
A quote from the Russian philosopher Nicolai Berdyaev explains this well:
“The question of bread for myself is a material question, but the question of bread for my neighbor is a spiritual question.”
What is the question that troubles us – my bread, or the bread of my neighbor?
That is the difference between materialism and real spirituality.