Friday, April 8 ~ Second Week in the Season of Easter
Holy Gospel: John 6:1-15 John Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
Meditation: Can anything on this earth truly satisfy the deepest longing and hunger we experience God? A great multitude had gathered to hear Jesus, no doubt because they were hungry for the word of life. Jesus’ disciples wanted to send them away at the end of the day because they did not have the resources to feed them. They even complained how much money it would take to feed such a crowd – at least six month’s wages! Jesus, the Bread of Life, took the little they had – five loaves and two fish – and giving thanks to his heavenly Father, distributed to all until they were satisfied of their hunger. The people of Israel had been waiting for the prophet whom Moses had promised: The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren – him shall you heed (Deuteronomy 18:15). The signs which Jesus did, including the miraculous feeding of the five thousand signified that God has indeed sent him as anointed Prophet and King. Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. What is the significance of this miracle? The miraculous feeding of such a great multitude pointed to God’s provision of manna in the wilderness for the people of Israel under Moses’ leadership. This food foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would offer his followers. Jesus makes a claim only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. The sign of the multiplication of the loaves when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes through his disciples prefigures the superabundance of the unique bread of his Eucharist or Lord’s Supper. When we receive from the Lord’s table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his sacred body and blood. Saint Ignatius of Antioch calls it the “one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ” (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward. When you approach the Table of the Lord, what do you expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for your soul? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in love and charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ.
Prayer: O God, hope and light of the sincere, we humbly entreat you to dispose our hearts to offer you worthy prayer and ever to extol you by dutiful proclamation of your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others. Do you trust in God’s provision for you? Do you share freely with others, especially those who lack even the most basic necessities? How about doing some spring cleaning, and take what you’re not using in your home (items in good condition, of course) and give them to any number of Catholic organizations reaching out to help those in need.
Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;
prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;
information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of Catholic Culture.