Good News for the Day, February 10, 2018
Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time (334)
Once again it happened that a large number of people had nothing to eat. Jesus summoned the people he inspired and said, “My heart is moved with compassion for all these people; they have been with me now for three days; they don’t have anything to eat. If I let them go hungry back home, they are going to collapse on the way—some have come some long ways.” His followers answered him, “Where can anybody get bread enough to satisfy them here in this remote place?” He asked them anyway, “How many loaves do you have?” They told him, “Seven.” He directed the crowd to find a place to sit down. Then, taking the seven loaves, he gave thanks, broke the loaves up, and handed them to his followers to distribute. They did that–distributing them to the crowd. They had a few fish, too. He said the blessing over the fish and ordered them distributed too. People ate and got satisfied. People gathered fragments—picking up left-overs—seven baskets. (There were some four thousand people.) He let the people go then and got into the boat with his followers and came to the state of Dalmanutha. (Mark 8)
Five times in the four Gospels Jesus does this—takes bread and fish and “multiplies them to feed thousands.” He is said to use the same ritual—asking the disciples, getting answered about the pitiful small nourishment, –then raising his eyes, expressing thanks—he distributes it, and everybody gets nourished. John’s gospel uses the incident for a discussion of the Eucharist and of faith and loyalty to Jesus.
The more we pursue the meaning of this event, the richer and more nourished you and I become. Sure, an event happened historically. It is irrelevant, though, to study its details as though gathering facts to pass a test in a bible study class.
Jesus nourishes—and as the Good News of John points out—nourishes you and me with His Very Self, his Flesh and Blood. Flesh—for Jesus refers to morality, weakness—the dimension of us that dies—the part of us that is not permanent but can be broken and disappear. (It is not the mere muscle and the skin we see).
Jesus calls on you to take his nourishment and multiply it for the thousands. Be humbly weak, admit your common humanity, its flaws and fadingness, your guilts and unknow sins—the things that break you away from others, the acceptance of our Sin-and-Glory, our frailty-and-magnificence, our smallness-and-our Call to be a Child of God.