and they picked up enough broken pieces to fill twelve baskets, as well as some of the fish.
did you know the disciple’s nickname baskets they were basket cases until called to hold learning and a tisket a tasket pulled out treasures along the way continually retreating to everyday provisions leftovers supreme
As captivating as large numbers are—this throng grouped into 50s and 100s or later reports of at least 5,000 and 4,000 people—it is the smaller number of 12 that intrigues.
There are obvious connections with Twelve Followers and Twelve Tribes. In the context of this story, 12 is excess value. There is enough and more. Whether Followers or Tribes, they are excess value oriented. If they are not a blessing for others, they might as well not be taking up space or wasting time.
I remember this in my latest regular blessing:
Mercy and Joy abound
and More to Pass Around
After reporting the gift of living in expectation of hospitality and a trust there will be enough, the Twelve had suddenly, urgently, come away without time to eat and, presumably, without provisions. The bread and fish they finally found among those in the crowd who were hospitable enough to share, became bread seed and fish seed multiplied 30, 60, and 100 times—a living parable. Such excess was evidenced by an extra basketful of plenty to pass on to people as they were blessed on their way to a next day—“Plant this bread seed and fish seed in the lives of those you meet.”
The bread and fish that came from the crowd for the crowd, Twelve, and Jesus grew to be sufficient to distribute to at least one degree more of separation (those the crowd will next meet). Presumably excess value will continue to echo and generate additional seed.
This well-graced event has overtones of what we have come to know as the Eucharist or Communion (a ritual worthy of a capital letter). The reader will need to wrestle with a tension of whether their experience of such a Bountiful Feast, Grace, or Dayenu is of the everyday or lives only within an authorized liturgical structure. This calls for reflection on the fullness of whatever size “basket” is our life.