Saturday, April 24, 2004
Feeding the Five Thousand  

The timing of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments' release of Redemptionis Sacramentum is very appropriate. At the end of the second week and during the third week of Easter, the liturgical readings from St. John's Gospel are focused on the Eucharist. Yesterday's Gospel reading (John 6:1-15) was Jesus' miraculous feeding of the five thousand. Taking place near the Passover, the miraculous feeding of bread pointed to the Eucharist which Jesus would establish at the Last Supper.

This miracle echoes the miraculous manna which the children of Israel received throughout their Exodus journey. The Lord through Moses provided manna for the people to gather every day except the Sabbath (Exodus 16:4-5). By performing this miracle Jesus identifies Himself with Yahweh who provided the Israelites daily bread. In addition, Jesus uses this miracle to teach the disciples and the people the lesson which the Lord sought to teach the children of Israel through His provision of manna:

And He humbled you and let you hunger and fed with you manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3).

Everyone knew that there was not enough food to feed the multitude, but Jesus was able to provide more than enough to satisfy all. As Timothy O'Donnell pointed out in his EWTN series on the Gospel of Luke, the twelve baskets of fragments are like 12 ciborium for the 12 apostles. Jesus is reconstituting the 12 tribes by his selection of 12 men to be His apostles. Now He is showing what these 12 apostles will do. They will feed the people by the food which He provides. They cannot provide the food. Only Jesus will be able to provide the food which is His body and blood.

That the people recognize this connection with Moses and the Exodus is evident by their reaction to the miracle: This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world (John 6:14).

The prophet they are referring to is the Prophet whom Moses prophesied would come:

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your, from your brethren--him you shall heed--just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, "Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die"...[and the Lord said to Moses] I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren, I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. (Deuteronomy 18:15-16).

Through this miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, the people recognize Jesus as that prophet, and they are ready to make him their leader, but Jesus knowing their hearts, and that He is not to made king by the people, withdraws by Himself.

As the subsquent Gospel readings will show, the people still have to learn the lesson of the Israelites in the wilderness. Man does not live by bread alone, but by God's words. For many of those who are ready to make Jesus a king, His words will be hard to swallow, and they will leave Him because they are not able to accept Him as the Bread of Life (John 6:60,66).

Posted by David at 8:08 PM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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