Friday, April 28, 2017
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
your Son Jesus fed
those who followed him in the desert
and they received as much as they wanted.May we know and be convinced
that he can fill our own emptiness
not just with gifts
that fill our need of the moment
but with himself,
and may we accept him eagerly,
for he is our Lord for ever.
2) Gospel Reading - John 6,1-15
After this, Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee - or of Tiberias - and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he had done in curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside and sat down there with his disciples.
The time of the Jewish Passover was near. Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, 'Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?' He said this only to put Philip to the test; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, 'Two hundred denarii would not buy enough to give them a little piece each.' One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said, 'Here is a small boy with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that among so many?' Jesus said to them, 'Make the people sit down.' There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were sitting there; he then did the same with the fish, distributing as much as they wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, 'Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing is wasted.' So they picked them up and filled twelve large baskets with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves.
Seeing the sign that he had done, the people said, 'This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.' Jesus, as he realised they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, fled back to the hills alone.
• The reading of the IV Chapter of John begins today which places before us two signs or miracles: the multiplication of the loaves (Jn 6, 1-15) and walking on the water (Jn 6, 16-21).Then the long dialogue on the Bread of Life is mentioned (Jn 6, 22-71). John places this fact close to the feast of the Passover (Jn 6, 4). The central approach is the confrontation between the old Passover of the Exodus and the new Passover which takes place in Jesus. The dialogue on the bread of life will clarify the new Passover which takes place in Jesus.
• John 6, 1-4: The situation. In the ancient Passover, the multitude crossed the Red Sea. In the new Passover, Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee. A great crowd follows Moses. A great crowd follows Jesus in this new exodus. In the first exodus, Moses goes up to the Mountain. Jesus, the new Moses, also goes up to the mountain. The crowds followed Moses who presents great signs. The crowds follow Jesus because they had seen the signs that he worked in favour of the sick.
• John 6, 5-7: Jesus and Philip. Seeing the multitude, Jesus confronts the disciples with the hunger of the people and asks Philip: “Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?” In the first exodus, Moses had obtained food for the hungry people. Jesus, the new Moses, will do the same thing. But Philip, instead of looking at the situation in the light of the Scripture, he looked at it according to the system and replies: “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough!” One denarius was the minimum salary for one day. Philip is aware of the problem and recognizes his total incapacity to solve it. He complains, but presents no solution.
• John 6, 8-9: Andrew and the boy. Andrew, instead of complaining, seeks a solution. He finds a boy who has five loaves of bread and two fish: Five barley loaves and two fish were the daily ration of the meal of the poor. The boy hands over his daily ration of food! He could have said: “Five loaves of bread and two fish, what is this for all these people? It will serve nothing! Let us divide all this among ourselves, between two or three persons”, but instead, he has the courage to give the five loaves of bread and the two fish to feed 5000 persons (Jn 6, 10! One who does this, either he is a fool or has much faith, believing that out of love for Jesus, all are ready to divide their food as the boy did!
• John 6, 10-11: The multiplication. Jesus asks the people to sit down on the ground. Then he multiplies the food, the ration of the poor. The text says: “Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were sitting there; he then did the same with the fish, distributing as much as they wanted”. With this phrase, written in the year 100 after Christ, John recalls the gesture of the Last Supper (I Co 11, 23-24). The Eucharist, when it is celebrated as it should be, will lead the persons to share as it impelled the boy to give all his ration of food to be shared.
• John 6, 12-13: The twelve baskets of what was left over. Number twelve evokes the totality of the people with their twelve tribes. John does not say if fish were also left over. He is interested in recalling the bread as a symbol of the Eucharist. The Gospel of John does not have the description of the Eucharistic Supper, but describes the multiplication of the loaves, symbol of what would happen in the communities through the celebration of the Eucharistic Supper. If among the Christian people there was a true and proper sharing, there would be abundant food and twelve baskets would be left over for many other people!
• John 6, 14-15: They want to make him king. The people interpret the gesture of Jesus saying: “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!” The peoples’ intuition is just. Jesus in fact, is the new Moses, the Messiah, the one whom the people were expecting (Dt 18, 15-19). But this intuition had been deviated by the ideology of the time which wanted a great king who would be strong and a dominator. This is why, seeing the sign, the people proclaim Jesus the Messiah and ask to make him King! Jesus perceived what could happen, and he withdraws and goes to the mountain alone. He does not accept this way of being Messiah and waits for the opportune moment to help the people to advance a step farther.
4) Personal questions
• In the face of the problem of hunger in the world, do you act as Philip, as Andrew or like the boy?
• The people wanted a Messiah who would be a strong and powerful king. Today, many follow populist leaders. What does today’s Gospel tell us about this?
5) Concluding Prayer
Yahweh is my light and my salvation,
whom should I fear?
Yahweh is the fortress of my life,
whom should I dread? (Ps 27,1)