GET CONNECTED with our CHURCH FAMILY … responding to human need

Thursday, March 7

Mark 6:30-46 (NRSV) Not Your Average Random Act of Kindness

As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.


The feeding of the five thousand surely is one of the most recognizable passages in the New Testament. Jesus tells his disciples to feed an enormous crowd and when the disciples balk because they only have five loaves and two fish, Jesus tells them to do it anyway. And just like that, five thousand people are well fed and there were leftovers! Talk about a random act of kindness! But it was not a random act of kindness at all. It was a miracle performed by Jesus and a lesson to us all.    

Now we mere humans are not in the business of performing miracles. That’s Jesus’ department.  We cannot wave a wand and clothe the naked or blink our eyes and cure the sick.  So what can we do?  Plenty.  We can reach out in many ways to extend hospitality and show caring to others, be they friends, foes, or strangers. These can be so-called random acts of kindness or they can be very intentional acts of caring and hospitality.   

Seemingly small acts can lead to game-changing, life-altering outcomes.  We can never know the impact of these seemingly small gestures – the book dropped off with a note to a struggling neighbor; the dinner – no matter how simple – left on the front porch for a sick friend; the brief text to a depressed friend to simply say “I’m thinking about you”; the encouraging smile offered to a scared child on the city bus; the umbrella offered to a stranger in a downpour. 

We all, no doubt, can remember a time when we were on the receiving end of such acts of kindness and hospitality and the powerful impact they had on us.  We can never know the impact our actions, be they big or small, have on other people – it may lift their mood for the rest of the day or perhaps our gesture can actually make them want to live another day.  We can never know the full impact.

So what’s the cost to us to extend hospitality to others? Not much. What’s the benefit? Some pretty great, potentially life-altering stuff.


Dear Lord, open our eyes and our hearts to the opportunities we encounter every day to extend hospitality to others in our midst. Amen.

Mary Spence Smith