Daily Reflection

The Fourth Sign

April 12, 2024 | Friday
  • Friday of the Second Week of Easter
  • John 6:1-15

    Acts 5:34-42

    Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14

    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.


    Opening Prayer: Lord God, you have provided me with much more than earthly bread. You have given me heavenly bread and the gift of eternal life. I thank you today for the wondrous gifts of your Sacraments and will strive to bring others to share in them.


    Encountering the Word of God


    1. The Fourth Sign in the Gospel of John: In the Gospel, Jesus works his fourth sign, the multiplication of the barley loaves and fish for the crowds. This miracle took place on a mountain near the Sea of Galilee and shortly before the second Passover of Jesus’ public ministry. The annual celebration of the Passover in Jerusalem commemorated Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. The center of the feast was the seder meal, in which the Exodus story was retold, psalms were sung and a roasted lamb was eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Jesus will give new and greater meaning to the Passover, for he “is the true ‘Lamb of God’ (1:29), whose redeeming work will accomplish a new deliverance from the slavery of sin (8:31-36) in a sacramental and liturgical meal (6:53-58; 1 Cor 5:7-8)" (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament, pp. 172-173). As a sign, the multiplication of the loaves anticipates the Last Supper, when Jesus will transform the feast of Passover into the memorial meal of the New Covenant. In multiplying the loaves, Jesus shows that he is greater than Moses and the prophet Elisha. Moses led the people of Israel on the exodus journey and God gave them manna to eat in the desert. Elisha multiplied twenty barley loaves for one hundred men (2 Kings 4:42-44). As the New Moses, Jesus leads the New People of God in a New Exodus and promises to give them bread from heaven. The miracle of Jesus is greater than that of Elisha, as he begins with fewer loaves and multiplies them for a larger crowd. After the miracle of the loaves, the people recognize Jesus' greatness and proclaim that he is the messianic Prophet foretold and promised by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).


    2. The Allegory of the Five Loaves and Two Fish: Saint Bede interprets the Gospel passage allegorically and sees the five loaves as the five books of the Torah and the two fish as the Prophets and Psalms. When Jesus receives these from the Jewish people, he breaks open their deeper, spiritual meanings to refresh the multitudes (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament, p. 173). The Alleluia verse invites us to go deeper and look beyond the sign of the multiplication of the loaves. It proclaims: “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Like the early Church, we too are nourished at the two tables: the Table of the Eucharist and the Table of the Word. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that the early Church devoted itself to the breaking of the bread, to the teaching of the Apostles, and to prayer. The Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and fearlessly proclaimed the Gospel. They wanted to give what they received; they wanted to nourish the people of Israel and the Gentiles who longed for true, spiritual food and drink.


    3. Suffering for Jesus: In the First Reading, we learn that the Apostles in Jerusalem were flogged by the Sanhedrin and ordered to stop preaching and speaking in the name of Jesus. The efforts of the Sanhedrin were futile: the Apostles rejoiced that they had been found worthy to share in Christ's suffering and continued their ministry both in the Temple and their homes. They preached and taught in the name of Jesus and proclaimed that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He has delivered the people from spiritual slavery and death. He is the Prophet whom they should heed. He is the New Moses, who has given them heavenly bread. Gamaliel, who was Paul’s teacher (Acts 22:3), offered sage advice to the members of the Sanhedrin. If Jesus was a false prophet and not the Messiah, then Christianity would implode like the movements led by Theudas and Judas the Galilean. If, however, Christianity comes from God, then every action against it on their part is a fight against God and rejection of his divine will. Two thousand years later, the growth and holiness, the fruitfulness, the catholic unity and stability of the Church continue to be signs and motives of credibility (CCC, 156, 812). They are signs that point us to faith in Jesus Christ and his saving work. 


    Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, your heart is moved with pity and compassion for your people. You know their deepest needs and my needs. You give yourself without reserve. Help me to imitate your self-offering today and serve those around me.


    Living the Word of God: As Christians, we are called each day to work for the extension of Christ’s kingdom. We are called especially to remove any hypocrisy – which undermines credibility in Jesus and in his Church – from our lives and collaborate with God’s grace, to bear fruit that lasts, to grow in communion with our brothers and sisters, and to anchor our lives more firmly in God and his promise of eternal life. Is there any hypocrisy in my life? How can I better conform my life to what I profess as a believing Christian?

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