On this occasion of Father’s Day, we are blessed to be hearing what I feel is one of the truly great miracles of Christ’s ministry. It never fails to move me: Luke 9: 11 – 17.
While this story is captured in all three of the synoptic Gospels, Luke’s version that will be read in our parishes on June 19th seems especially stirring. It is sandwiched between two very important events: between the commissioning of the Twelve and the profession of Peter’s faith.
And yet what I never seem to find absolutely amazing is that what all of our Gospel writers failed to mention, and perhaps rightly so as it was not a reality of their time and culture or habit.
So, on this Father’s Day, we hear read to us that Christ was encouraged to dismiss the crowd at the end of his teaching as they were completely incapable of feeding “the men”. An enormous crowd numbering about five thousand. But wait! This did not count women and children. Nowhere was this mentioned in any of the Gospels. If the true size of the crowd had been accounted for, I have heard estimates in the range of 10,000+, the magnitude of feeding a crowd of 10,000+ with 5 loaves and 2 fish and having 12 wicker baskets of leftovers would have been even more beyond the keen.
I personally believe the estimate of 10,000 is a realistic estimate. These were a religious people, and news of Christ would have drawn many. Certainly, men alone would have been motivated to seek him out. But I suspect many men were “motivated” by their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, aunts to join them and became part of the family traveling to hear this man who was so baffling and extraordinary at the same time.
Not counting women and children. While we enjoy and celebrate all the men who are and have nurtured us in our families today, it is also important how we are all intertwined. It is a blessing that we all count, and that comingling of gifts and talents is not to be overlooked. Worse yet, not counted is missing how that diversity contributes to the greater good. May blessings be upon us all on this special family day.