Thank you, Lord,
for bringing me safely through the night.
Strengthen me, Lord,
to stand and walk in your love and grace.
Help me to embrace this day as gift,
as Uniquely given for the first and last time.
Release in me the energy
for building up the community around me. Amen.
Fr. John Klassen, OSB, Abbot of Saint John’s Abbey
Today we will hear at Mass the miracle of the five thousand, not counting women and children. Recently I read a piece by Dr. D’Ambrosio where he recounts a preacher who said that the real miracle was that Jesus preaching moved everyone to take out their food and share. His quote was “that is what my teenagers would call lame. And I agree with him.
Explaining Away the Mystery
When we start looking at the mechanics of how a miracle occurs we take away all the mystery, all the action of faith, and render it nothing more than an easily explained circumstance. Why would we want to do that? Nothing is gained for faith by saying “well everyone felt generous and shared their food.” Quite honestly, I think that is about the most “lame” explanation possible, it is something I would expect to hear at a meeting of Atheists. Atheists at least admit they do not believe, but for a man with the responsibility of preaching to say such a thing is in my mind a great offense.
The feeding of the five thousand (family units) is a precursor to the greatest gift that Jesus gave us, The Last Supper. Any attempt to explain the gift of Jesus’ own body in the Eucharistic gift is not only heresy it is a sin against the Holy Spirit.
Though this story is about truly supernatural, miraculous action, it is not about God creating something out of nothing. He says to the apostles “you give them something to eat yourselves.” He had to be joking, they must have thought to themselves. They had nothing, or almost nothing. Just five loaves and two fish–scarcely enough to serve as an appetizer for themselves, never mind the crowd. But the apostles sheepishly complied when Jesus ordered that they surrender their scanty food supply. He blessed this meager offering and the miracle happened. It was not only enough, but after thousands had eaten their fill, there was more left over than what they’d started with in the first place.
Only the least imaginative among us would fail to see the foreshadowing of the Eucharist in this miracle.
The reading from Isaiah 55:1-3 is a selection from the longer 55:1-11 that is one of the required readings for the Easter Vigil. I doubt that the compilers of the Lectionary accidentally put the feeding of the five thousand with the reading from Isaiah, for Isaiah says
Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
Come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
The beauty of these two readings together is how Isaiah foretells Matthew. We are granted salvation in Christ by his resurrection and partake in his life by receiving his body and blood in the Eucharistic meal. The mass.
Today I ask you to ponder these two readings as part of a unit, a unit that tells us something very important about ourselves and our Lord. Isaiah says, come and eat without price; Jesus says, you give them something to eat, and later he says, “This is my body.”