Daily Reflection – 4/24/2020
After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee [of Tiberias]. 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 [bit].” 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. (John 6:1-15)
The miracle of the loaves and fishes is the only one that appears in all four gospels. That, in and of itself, gives it import. And the message contained in that miracle is the central tenet of our faith.
The miraculous feeding to such a large multitude reminded those gathered with Jesus of God’s provision of manna in the wilderness for the people of Israel. But they fail to realize what this sign actually reveals. Instead of seeing in Jesus the very embodiment of God’s glory, love, and Word, they see a king, a political or military figure who might serve their desires. They hoped to have his miraculous powers at their disposal to promote their national and personal welfare. But he had intended this sharing of food to teach them a particular lesson.
This daily provision of food in the barren wilderness foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would offer his followers. The food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ. Jesus makes a claim which only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience.
Like the crowds, we have been fed by God’s grace, fed with God’s mercy and care and steadfast love; and, like them, we often fail to see what God is doing among us. We look for the “wrong” kind of Jesus, one who will simply serve our programs, our desires, and our wishes.
Jesus will have no part of this, because God is up to something far greater. Jesus comes to us as God in the flesh, the one who reveals to us the Father and draws us into the Father’s love. Jesus comes across the fearful, lonely, empty, threatening times and places, and says “I am.” The “I am” has come to be with us and bring us to the goal God has intended.
This divine presence means we find ourselves called, as the disciples were, to feed the hungry. Of course, this means we are to provide food and clean water to so many in this world who lack those things. And of course, our resources are not sufficient for such a task. But this cannot be an excuse to refuse what Jesus’ gives, and to bring it to others within the world. There is no excuse not to receive from Jesus’ hand what he gives, and to go into the world with this gift.
All life and all good gifts come from God. Jesus comes to open our hearts and our hands to those around us. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others.
We can do that only because he also comes to open our eyes to his own presence as the grace-and-peace-filled “I” in the middle of the storm.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, help me to have faith in Your perfect plan for my life. Help me to know that You are in control when life seems out of control. In those moments, may the faith I manifest be a gift to You so that You can use it for Your glory. Jesus, I trust in You.
The Lord alone can satisfy the deepest longing of our heart. 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 so that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need.