July 29, 2012
John 6: 1-15
After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.
Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved(http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
More than Bread
The gospel today provides John’s account of the multiplication of the loaves. Chapter 6 begins with an account of the multiplication of loaves and concludes with Jesus’ admonition that “my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” This passage, like many others in the Gospels and the Epistles, grounds the Catholic belief in the Real presence and its saving work among us.
Today’s gospel reveals that when Jesus supplied for the material needs of thousands who came to hear here him, the response of the crowds was to try to take him off and make him king. For supplying bread alone? Yes for bread alone. It was not until the industrial revolution, well into the 19th century, that most people (at least 75% of the population) spent at least 75% of their wages just on bread. So anyone who could supply bread, the basic material substance of life, was seen as a great king. Jesus rejected this offer, for he saw in it a job description that limited human existence to supplying only material needs.
There is no doubt that we need bread and many other material things, but the limited horizon of desiring only material things diminishes our potential as men and women, created in the image and likeness of God, whose deepest desires are not satisfied by bread alone.
—Fr. Michael Maher, S.J.
Lord, in some ways we are like the young boy in the Gospel today. We have but little to give to those whose needs are great. Yet if we offer what we do have and lean on you for the rest, we will make a difference. When we feel overwhelmed or question if our efforts really matter, help us to remember that together we are an awesome team.
-The Jesuit Prayer Team
Please share the Good Word with your friends!