Matthew 14:21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
I haven’t been single for a long time but I know lots of single people so I am familiar with the invitations they get for themselves “plus 1.” I’ve even heard people ask “will you be my plus 1?” It kind of strikes me as the same as the “besides women and children” in the above passage. They are part of the group and must be accounted for but they are nameless and ancillary to the action or the plans. As a pastor I sometimes officiate at weddings where I know very few guests and wander around the reception looking for a place to belong. Most of us long to be the center of attention and have the action revolve around us. It is a little humbling (humiliating?) to have our identity be dependent on the person we are associated with. There are less demeaning reasons that the woman and children are presented as an attachment here. The trip to the sight was a significant distance for most of the crowd and probably few woman and children made the journey. But the ones who did got fed and encountered Jesus along with the men. We may spend much of our life feeling like we are on the outside looking in but in God’s narrative we are counted and in Jesus’ story we get fed too. Where are you in the story of God this week?