Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 18

FOOD FIGHT CONFERENCE PLENARY 1 - Finberg & panelists Feasting It’s very clear that the idea of feasting as exemplified in Jesus’s feeding of the multitude is so essential that it’s recorded in all four Gospels. So, you get it in John chapter 6, and I’ll start with that one and leave it with that one. But you also have it in Matthew 14, Mark 6, and Luke 9. It’s the feeding of the multitudes. It’s a familiar story. Jesus crossed the shores of the Galilee, went up to the mountains. The Jewish Passover feast was near, just a little taste, coming up soon: When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” (Jn 6:5–12) How much was left over? Twelve baskets for this first miracle. How much for the second miracle when it was four thousand men instead of five thousand? Seven is right. So, the twelve tribes of Israel, symbolically, had enough to eat from all that was left over. The seven gentile nations that surrounded Israel at that time had enough to eat because there was feasting, because with Christ there was abundance. So what’s neat is that every single culture, every single religion has feasting as part of it no matter how little you have. You can have enough for everyone in this context, whether it’s a subculture in Japan celebrating the lunar New Year, as the Chinese and the Buddhists and the Confucian followers do, or the feast of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Of course that festival has food. It might not be the food you and I are used to, but it has food. Same with the Jews and the Muslims and the Christians: we feast. So, food is essential. 15