For When Jesus Asks Ridiculous Things

January 5, 2021   Memorial of Saint John Neumann, Bishop (Lectionary: 213)

Reading I   1 Jn 4:7-10
Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only-begotten Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Responsorial Psalm   72:1-2, 3-4, 7-8
R. (see 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
The mountains shall yield peace for the people,
and the hills justice.
He shall defend the afflicted among the people,
save the children of the poor.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Alleluia   Lk 4:18
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor
and to proclaim liberty to captives.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   Mk 6:34-44
When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.
By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already very late.
Dismiss them so that they can go
to the surrounding farms and villages
and buy themselves something to eat.”
He said to them in reply,
“Give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food
and give it to them to eat?”
He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”
And when they had found out they said,
“Five loaves and two fish.”
So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass.
The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties.
Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples
to set before the people;
he also divided the two fish among them all.
They all ate and were satisfied.
And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments
and what was left of the fish.
Those who ate of the loaves were five thousand men.

By Kristen Pungitore Busa 

Following Jesus doesn’t make much sense sometimes. I am struck by the wild things Jesus asks his disciples to do when folks are hungry in the dessert, like to “gather the loaves and fishes and feed this 5,000 person crowd,” or when the party is out of wine to “bring me jugs of water.”  Or better yet, when the disciples couldn’t catch any fish and Jesus instructed them to try the other side of the boat. 

I imagine myself in those scenes. I do not act quickly.

Instead, I furrow my brow and think aloud “Wait, what? Why?” He doesn’t provide an objective to his lesson, he does not explain the situation, and he does not walk them through the steps of his miracles or teachings. He just asks them to follow along and follow him. 

This is hard. I have been indoctrinated in a Westernized world that emphasizes the need of being in control of one’s own life and destiny.

Following Jesus, turning to God in prayer before making a decision, and trusting in the direction I’m being led into does not make sense. 

I remember telling my high school AP Calculus teacher that I felt drawn to study Theology in college and he responded by telling me that studying math would be a better decision because numbers make sense, they’re unchanging, and they don’t require me just “trust in God’s plan.”

Yes, I get that studying math may have been a more lucrative career choice, but I am confident that following Jesus, even when it seems sort of absurd, leads us into the work of building the Kingdom of God here on Earth. 

Jesus, help me to follow.


Kristen Busa is a new wife, a high school theology teacher, and semi-professional trip planner. She loves the natural world, teaching students about scripture and social justice, going for all the hikes with her Golden Retriever, Finn, and trying to cook every recipe on her Pinterest board. She believes community is central to our experience of God. Find out more about her here.

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