View all Gospel Reflections |
Blessed, Broken, and Given
Wednesday of the First Week of Advent
At that time, Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets full.
Opening Prayer: My Jesus, help me to sit and listen as you teach me, just as the crowds did on the mountain in Galilee all those years ago. Open my ears, mind, and heart that I might receive your word deeply. Feed me with the Bread of Life that I may never be hungry again (John 6:35).
- Superabundant Providence: The disciples collected seven loaves of bread and a few fish, but what was left at the end was exponential: seven baskets of leftovers, a basket for each loaf that was given. This is a wonderful demonstration of God’s superabundant providence. We give him what little we have and he gives it back to us in a much greater way. We sometimes resist giving God what we have because we think it is not enough. We hesitate even though we can recall the times when God has provided for us, often over and above what we needed. Why do we hold back?
- Overflowing Abundance: Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” The multiplication of the loaves is an example of how Jesus came to share his abundant life with each one of us. Jesus came to give us eternal life, but also to give us a full, rich life of freedom in him here and now. This is the abundant life of which he spoke. By coming to the faith and “abiding,” or living, in Christ (John 15:4), we have a share in God’s divine life of grace. We can imagine ourselves there on the mountain sitting with Jesus, passing around the basket full of fish and bread. Like King David in today’s psalm, we look around and see all the good things that God has given us and exclaim, “my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5).
- Eucharist, Source of Life: When we pay attention to the meals or feasts in the Gospels, many of them point to the Eucharist. In the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to the people. Notice that the bread was specifically broken, which indicates dying. This is key to how it was multiplied. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). The bread that was blessed, broken, and given is a biblical “type” of Eucharist. These are the same words that Matthew used to describe how Jesus instituted the Eucharist (Matthew 26:26). This is how the disciples on the road to Emmaus finally recognized him after his Resurrection: “When he was at table with them, he took the bread, and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24:30-31). The Eucharist communicates Christ’s life, which is both abundant and eternal. One way to remain in Christ and receive life, both abundantly in this life and eternally, is to receive the Eucharist: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:56).
Conversing with Christ: My Jesus, thank you for providing for me both when I have offered you my gifts and even when I have not. I am sorry for the times when I have held something back from you. Thank you for coming to give me a share in your abundant life. Help me abide in you by making my heart a place for you to abide in me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will consider what things I might be holding back from you and offer those things to you, trusting in your tender mercy.
For Further Reflection: Learn more about the ancient Church of the Multiplication (called Tabgha) in Galilee. It is said to be built on the site where Jesus blessed, broke, and gave the multiplied loaves to the crowds.
Written by Carey Boyzuck.