Lectio Divina: John 6,1-15
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 forever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - John 6:1-15
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.
• The reading of John today 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 discourse 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 issue is the confrontation between the old Passover of the Exodus and the new Passover which takes place in Jesus. The discourse on the bread of life will explain 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 follow Moses who presents great signs. The crowds follow Jesus because they have seen the signs that He worked on behalf 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 obtained food for the hungry people. Jesus, the new Moses, will Himself provide the same thing. But Philip, instead of looking at the situation in the light of the Scripture, 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 inability 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 food for 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 people,” but instead, he has the courage to give the five loaves of bread and the two fish to feed 5000 people (Jn 6:10) One who does this is either a fool or has much faith, believing that out of love for Jesus, all are ready to share 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, John recalls the action of the Last Supper (I Cor 11:23-24). The Eucharist, when it is celebrated as it should be, will lead people 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 connotes the totality of the people with their twelve tribes. John does not say whether 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 Last 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 Jesus’ gesture, saying, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!” The people’s intuition is correct. Jesus in fact, is the new Moses, the Messiah, the one whom the people were expecting (Deut 18:15-19). But this intuition had been corrupted 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 realizes 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
• With regard to 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. Do we want a powerful Messiah in our life too, to take away all of our problems? Or do we submit as He did and accept what God has given us and follow rather than conquer?
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)