All the Reasons


For the love of Peter, Jesus
(not you, Simon, it’s just an expression,
for Pete’s sake—no, seriously, Peter,
not you!), Jesus, are you kidding?

Feed all these people? Feed
this multitude? With what?
“Where are we to buy bread?”
you ask. Oh, that’s a good one.
With what will we buy bread?
That’s even better. Now listen,
Jesus, and I’ll tell you
just what a Bad Idea this is.

First: Feed these people here,
and all you’ll be is “Jesus, bread-provider”
to them ever after. Heck, they’ll follow
you right on across this lake
as long as you’ll provide a meal
when they arrive. Come on!

These people are responsible adults.
Their hunger is their own affair.
They could have brought their meals:
Why, look what Andrew’s found!
A boy with better sense than all
these adults put together.
He brought his dinner. Let
them go and feed themselves.

Second: Now, you think you’ll make
stone soup? Oh, that’s a fairy tale.
I know I just called them all
responsible adults, but sure, that’s true
and false in every way that makes
a difference. Somewhere in this crowd
there’s probably another lad with sense
(or whose mother had the sense, more likely),
a girl with bread, a woman with cake,
but I don’t see another volunteer
with contributions for this meal.

Besides: who comes up to a hillside
carrying the makings of “stone soup?”
I guarantee you there’s no onions, there’s
no lentils, there’s no herbs, there’s
no chicken hiding in their bags. Oh,
and one more thing, my friend:
We didn’t bring a pot.

Third. We’re broke. And fourth,
we’re broke, and fifth (and if you
missed it when I said it twice),
sweet Jesus Christ, We’re broke.

The sum of all our wealth are these
five loaves, and these two fish,
and (pardon, please, this pun),
as we stand high upon this hillside,
I think the fish are smelling higher still.

That’s it. Five loaves. Two questionable
fish. That’s it. That’s all. That’s just…


A poem/prayer based on John 6:1-21, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year B, Proper 12.

The image is of a fresco in the Catacomb of Callistus, Rome.

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