April 16, 2021 (readings)
- Friday of the Second Week of Easter
- Maribeth Harper
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.
Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you for this opportunity to sit quietly with your word. Please bless me and those I love as I pray and seek your holy will.
Nobody’s Perfect: Did Philip fail Jesus's test by his response, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little”? What about Andrew? Andrew pointed out the young boy with the loaves and fishes, but added hesitatingly, “...what good are these for so many?” Neither apostle answered with the faith of Mary who said “Fiat” (Luke 1:38) and “They have no more wine.” (John 2:3); or the nobleman who “took Jesus at his word and departed” and his son was cured (John 4:50); or the man with leprosy who said, “If you will it you can make me clean,” (Mark 1:40); or the two blind men who believed Jesus could cure them (Matthew 9:28). Was Jesus put off by Philip and Andrew’s timid responses? Apparently not, because he worked the multiplication of loaves and fishes anyway, involving them in the distribution and cleanup. We can draw consolation from this story when we fail to rise to a spiritual challenge. Our Lord doesn’t demand perfection from us. As long as we stay close to him, Jesus will continually draw us into the work of the kingdom, in spite of our weaknesses.
Have Them Recline: Jesus ordered Philip, Andrew, and the rest of the disciples to “Have the people recline” as he prepared to work the miracle. What anticipation there must have been among the apostles and the crowd as Jesus had the loaves and fishes brought before him! And what joy Jesus must have felt to work a miracle that would prefigure the Holy Eucharist, feed thousands of people, and edify so many more souls who would meditate on this Scripture years later. Even more important to Jesus was the fulfillment of his Father’s will and the glory he brought to his Father by this miracle. When we are out and about doing the work of the kingdom, we can appreciate the miracles, large or small, and we relish the consolations, but we must attribute all the glory to God, in imitation of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
No Waste: Jesus ordered the disciples to “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” He could certainly have made exactly what was required, so why were there leftovers? When Jesus asked that the broken pieces be collected, was he thinking of the Eucharist? Was he reminding us that the bread, broken and distributed by priests at altars all over the world, should be consumed and never wasted? Was he urging us not to “waste” the superabundant graces we receive there? Let’s recommit ourselves to reverent reception of the Eucharist, prayerfully anticipating our reception of the host and celebrating afterward in silent prayer, so as not to “waste” a single grace from Jesus.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, you fed five thousand men on that hillside. How many thousands have you fed since then with your Eucharist? Thank you for this Scriptural prefiguration of the Eucharist. Help me to receive you more reverently each time I attend Mass and worship you more ardently in Adoration.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a Eucharistic visit, receive the Eucharist at Mass, or make a spiritual communion with a heart full of gratitude.
For Further Reflection: Watch this short video on a Eucharistic miracle in Poland, by EWTN Nightly News.
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