Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Sign of the Loaves

John 6:1-15
1. Jesus knew that they were going to carry Him off and make Him king, so He withdrew to the mountain alone. Why did Jesus do that? We call Him the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. It is right and just that Jesus rules in our hearts. If the people of His day wanted to declare Him to be King, why then did Jesus run away? It was not like He was one to escape His responsibilities.
2. It can be said that the people in those days after the multiplication of the loaves rightly identified Jesus as the King. But their reasons were not correct- they were thinking about filling their own stomachs with temporary food. That is, they were intent upon using Jesus for their worldly needs. On the other hand, Jesus was wanting to give them bread for life eternal- that is Himself.
3. Although the multiplication of the loaves was a phenomenal miracle, Jesus did not do it for its own sake, but as a sign. The miracle of the loaves recalls the reading from Second Kings. God fed a hundred people with a mere twenty loaves at the time of Elisha the prophet. That miracle was intended to confirm the prophetic authority of Elisha. So too does the multiplication of the loaves serve as a sign to confirm Jesus’ message. However it’s not a hundred people who are fed, but five thousand. And there are not twenty loaves, but only five loaves and a couple of fish. And there was not just some left over, but twelve baskets of scraps after everyone had eaten as much as they could. Clearly, Jesus is far greater than Elisha or any of the prophets.
4. The multiplication also recalls the mannah from heaven which fed the Israelites while they wandered in the wilderness at the time of the Exodus. Each day, the people were to go out and collect enough to eat for that one day. They had to learn to trust God to care for them each day by giving them enough to eat. In the wilderness, God worked through His servant Moses, the Lawgiver. Because Jesus fed the multitude through His own power, Jesus is superior to Moses. It is a sign that Jesus is God. Therefore, the New Covenant given through Jesus is superior to the Covenant given through Moses.
5. The sign likewise points to the abundant generosity of God. Like the changing of the water into wine at Cana, the Lord does not simply give enough, He gives an abundance. We may take this abundance for granted when we breathe the air or drink water or bask in the warm sunshine unaware that things do not have to be like this. We have not even discovered another planet that has the same conditions as earth throughout all our explorations using telescopes and robotic probes.
6. Looking forward, the multiplication of the loaves was a sign of the sacred meal which Jesus would institute on the night before He died. When we eat the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, it does not matter how large or small we consume, it is all Jesus. Jesus can feed over a billion Catholics and Orthodox Christians every Sunday or even every day- as many as come before Him in faith.
7. The aspect of the feeding of the five thousand that always attracts my attention is the boy with the five loaves and two fish. He has what might have been enough food for himself, but which clearly is not enough for everyone. Yet only in giving up his lunch will everyone eat- a fact which he did not know until he trusted in Jesus and shared his food. So it may seem with the things we possess, whether treasures of talents, or time. They may appear to be insignificant and insufficient. And they will remain so until we give them back to Jesus.

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