How are you doing? A question heard a lot over the phone in this covid-19 era. It can have a lot of connotations to it- either from a worry about something historical within us, maybe a genuine concern for our mental health, or may it's just an icebreaker. What I have found more and more during our pandemic and isolation, is a renewed sense of concern for our mind, body and spirit, when we talk. Sure, they are all related, but it's not been until this pandemic that I have really understood how intertwined they are in our everyday lives. Without a good diet of balanced foods, some form of physical activity, and an active prayer life that empowers an imaginative life with a hobby or passion- we slowly start to collapse a little. Pre covid it was easy to feel like there was balance in life because of how free and active we felt, we could do anything and go anywhere! Then isolation hit, travel was cut off, and our options dwindled. This has left us with what I think will be one of the largest challenges after finances in covid-19, is our mental, physical and spiritual health. Something that our gospel highlights this morning.
The feeding of the five thousand in Matthew is a wonderful example of abundance for us to reflect on as we look at life in the post covid-19 world. It would be easy for us to focus on the act of feeding, or even the immense crowds, but there is something still greater at play in this narrative for us to reflect on. It's the action of Jesus. Now let's remember that Matthew is focusing our attention on the nature of the kingdom in these last few narratives, giving us lots of robust imagery of what the kingdom will look like. Last week showed us where the kingdom is actively present in our world, and invited us into that action with our lives. This week we see the same abundance of the kingdom, with a step further. We see the compassion of the kingdom. Commentators note that it's clear that this healing Jesus performed was a very long engagement, and probably took most of the day to work through the crowds. I can't imagine how exhausted Jesus would have been after seeing and talking to all those people, which is why I think the disciples came to Jesus and asked him to call it a day. They were no doubt playing crowd control and were getting worried about how they were going to continue managing this sea of people that seemed to go on forever. To the disciples, it was clear that Jesus had done his job, healing the sick, but Jesus knew that health was not just about checking the boxes off and focusing on one aspect of a person while ignoring the rest. Jesus believed in the vitality of the whole, of an integrated mind, body, and spirit. You need a good diet to stay strong- so Jesus asks his disciples to do even more work and feed this group of people. A very everyday thing, yet it is this food that will grow us beyond our wildest imaginations and capabilities. Jesus this morning is feeding our mind, body and spirit, in order to strengthen us for the work of the kingdom, work we are all called to do through an integrated life in his name.
The call of Christ to be an integrated person of mind, body, and spirit as we grow in faith and deepen our relationship with him is something that will continue to change and grow as we do. As we age, our needs will change which will reveal within us new awareness of God's presence and God's gift of total healing in our lives. So too now, during this pandemic we are able to begin leveraging this time away from the noise of “being too busy” and focus on the invitation to be intentional about who and what we are. As we continue to focus on how we want to come back from this pandemic, God is holding up for us a question about what parts we want to keep from this time- and what parts we don't, as we seek to return to our world. This leaves us with a question about not just how we as a parish respond to spiritual needs, but also how we respond to physical needs as well. We are proud founding members of the homeless ministry which is transforming people's lives everyday. We have wonderful worship, and we are renowned for our hospitality and welcome. But I wonder, what about our physical bodies. What are we doing about our physical bodies? I wonder what it would look like if we started hiking together, or swimming- when it's safe to do. I wonder what it would look like if we started walking the park a couple times a week together, shared a meal together, and watched the sunset? I wonder what it would look like if we found ways to begin working together in this place on our physical fitness together, so that as we are developing our emotional fitness through study of God, and our Spiritual fitness through Eucharist and the sacraments here in this parish, we can truely say that the wholeness of Gods kingdom is present here in this place, in mind, body, and spirit. I wonder what that would look like?
Jesus does for us today what he has always done for us which is bring the wholeness of healing to our lives with his gentle invitations of abundance and presence. A presence that asks us to think more deeply about what our expanding sense of ministry in this place, through this neighborhood, could be as we start to come back to life after covid-19. How are we taking care of all of who God made us to be together, our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, and how are we doing that for our wider community through this parish? This is the heart, I believe, of the feeding of the 5000. Nothing is beyond Gods power to heal, feed, and teach, a call we are sent out into our world to live everyday inviting people to join us on that journey of faith at every opportunity. We are doing something amazing here, church. What does it mean for us to feed this neighbourhood in mind, body, and spirit, together this week?