The next month is exciting for me in regard to the weekly gospel readings. For the next several weeks, we cover a little bit out of my favorite part of the Bible--the sixth chapter of John. It's the section of the Bible that the "Bread of Life" discourse is in. This is an EXCITING section. There aren't any battles in it. No one dies. There is no adultery. But it's exciting because Jesus has got something to say in this chapter. He normally has great words of wisdom but in THIS chapter---He's REALLY got something to say. What he says provides us with the Eucharist--the source and summit of our faith.
Before we jump into that, we are given a little sample, of what were are about to see. In the first reading (2 King 4: 42-44), the prophet Elisha does his own multiplication of loaves. A man brings forth twenty barley loaves and Elisha tells his servant to feed everyone with the 20 loaves. The servant protests but Elisha persists. And what do you know---the 20 loaves feeds a hundred people with bread left over.
Jump forward to the gospel and we see that just like last week, even though Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee the people follow him. There is a huge throng of people and Jesus asks Phillip, "Whoa!! That's a lot of people!! Where can we get enough food to feed all these people?" Scripture lets us in on a little secret though---Jesus already knows what He's going to do. He's only testing Phillip.
I can picture Phillip looking around and going, "Crud!! What are you looking at me for?? I don't know." He goes on to say, "Two hundred days wages worth of food wouldn't be enough to feed everyone just a little bit." Two hundred days wages---that's a lot of money even back in that time.
Andrew--Peter's brother--comes up and points out a kid with five barley loaves and two fish. He also points out, "Hey--it's something but it's not going to feed everyone."
Jesus hears nothing of it. Jesus takes the loaves, gives thanks and proceeds to feed the multitudes. Every one has their fill of bread and fish (I wonder if they filled everyone up on the bread like they do at The Olive Garden first). There was even some left over that they filled up twelve baskets!
Okay, so you are thinking--Jesus does another miracle. Big whoop. He's always doing that. But knowing what is coming you the the multiplication of loaves and fishes in a whole new light. You see, Jesus keeps feeding us and providing us nourishment. At every mass, we are fed and nourished with the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is showing that it's no big deal for him to multiply fishes and bread so why can He not multiply Himself and feed us for eternity.
On a side note--here is something that kind of irritates me. Some of you have probably heard this homily before: "It's possible Jesus did not really multiply the fishes and the loaves but that people actually had food on them and they shared with their neighbor and that's the real miracle--that he was able to get people to share." OH BALDERDASH!! Stop trying to explain away everything. That's a bunch of post-Vatican II liberal weenie hogwash. God made the Heavens and the Earth out of nothing--surely He can multiply some fishies and bread!
If you don't have faith that He can do that, how can you have faith that every week He turns (through the priest) bread and wine into His own body and blood??