Leviticus 7-8 covers some more regulations regarding sacrifices in very minute details. It also goes over the ordination of Aaron and his sons, and the consecration of their clothes and vestments. Most of this is repeating earlier chapters in exodus where all this liturgy is given to Moses, and now it’s showing Moses following the instructions to the letter.
This is important later on when Moses fails to follow the instructions of the Lord as given and the consequences are dire. But that’s a little further down the road.
Our reading in Mark sees Jesus returning to his hometown of Nazareth. This is probably about 30 miles as the bird flies from his base in Caparnum, but over hilly terrain so maybe a 40-50 walk. That’s far enough in ancient days that there was likely little traffic between these two places, and Jesus having established himself by the Sea of Galilee, likely hadn’t been back to Nazareth in a long time.
On the sabbath day, Jesus enters the synagogue and begins teaching them. At this point they all want to know where he’s gotten his teachings from, and start bringing up his family and essentially they’re wondering what makes Jesus think he’s special or learned to be teaching them.
As a side note here, sometimes people opposed to the Marian Dogma of the Perpetual Virginity will bring up this passage and say that these are the brothers of Jesus, so Mary couldn’t have remained a virgin. This sense of discovery, and urge to share, among these particular people ignores the fact that the church is intimately familiar with the scriptures and has been aware of this passage for 2000 years now, and yet maintains Mary was ever-virgin. How could this possibly be? Well it’s actually simple, because the word used for “brothers” is better rendered from Greek as “brethren” and is translated as such many times in the New Testament.
After his rejection in Nazareth, the apostles are sent out in groups of two to proclaim the good news, with instructions to shake the dust from their sandals at any town that rejected them. This was a symbolic act of judgment against those who rejected the ones sent by Jesus, and thus rejected Jesus himself. When they returned to Jesus, after the interjected story that was a flashback to the death of John the Baptist, they filled him in on all that took place during their mission. This expedition was likely a training experience for the, as they’d be taking over the entire ministry and newborn church in a very short time.
While they were doing their mission debrief, Jesus suggested they take the boats up the shore to a quieter place so they could decompress away from the crowds. But they were spotted trying to get away and the crowds followed on shore. This leads up to the crowds being there with Jesus and the apostles late into the day, in a place outside of the towns, and so they were hungry, and Jesus sits them down to feed them.
This is the same Feeding the 5000 as recorded in Matthew 14. It has multiple layers of meaning beyond just a large amount of people having full bellies. There’s the fact that Jesus is miraculously feeding 5,000 men, so probably 10,000 with women and children at least. But even if it was just a few dozen it would still be amazing considering the little amount of food they started out with.
Then there is the fact that Jesus had pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and we know that Jesus calls himself the “good shepherd” in the Gospel of John. This is the good shepherd caring for his sheep. He cares for us and our needs, he guides us and feeds us.
This event also points forward to the last supper and the Eucharist, where the good shepherd will feed us daily until he comes again. But in the future fulfillment of the Eucharist, it isn’t just common food of bread and fish, he feeds us with his own flesh and blood.