Today Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Mark (8: 1-10), in which Jesus calls his disciples to him and, again, provides nourishment for a large crowd who have nothing to eat.

Fr Paul says, today we contrast the feeding of the 5,000 (with twelve baskets full of scraps) with this account of feeding 4,000 (with seven loaves and seven baskets full of scraps).  We are aware that Jesus feeds the crowds on a number of occasions.

The feeding of the 5,000 in Mark was in Chapter 6. Now, we are in Chapter 8 when hear this account so we are reminded of the illusion the writer of Mark is giving in relation to the Eucharist and the Last Supper with the taking of bread, the blessing and the distributing.

We are also aware, notes Fr Paul, that Mark is writing for a Hellenistic audience and so the location of this is on the Eastern (or Gentile) side of the lake. The seven loaves and seven baskets of scraps represent the traditional seven Gentile nations of Canaan and the seven Hellenistic deacons.

Through this account, and the previous account, Mark is telling us that the Gentile followers of Jesus are just as important as his Jewish followers; both will share in the heavenly banquet.

For our reflection today (and, after a small technical issue ie accidentally kicking the camera while recording), Fr Paul invites us to think about this question, ‘Have I respected the dignity of all those I have come into contact with or have I let racism, discrimination and a judgemental attitude get in the way?’

For Ash Wednesday Mass times see the slide at the end of the Gospel Reflection