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Posts Tagged ‘feeding thousands’


John 21:1-14: It Was Already Dawn

Friday, April 13, 2018

James Tissot: Jesus Appears on the Shore

In this second week of Eastertide, we continue to find new life in the Easter miracle of our resurrection as we re-visit the Gospel readings for the Easter Octave. Today we return to the Sea of Tiberius with Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two other disciples. Discouraged, frightened, needing employment, or wanting to go back to familiar rhythms and themes of life . . . we do not know why these followers return to the waters of Galilee. But we do know that this is where they encounter the risen Christ. It was already dawn, John tells us.

This imagery reminds us that when we believe our night of suffering and striving is endless, we – like these disciples – will look up from draining work to discover that it is already dawn. Perhaps we – like these disciples – meet Jesus when we are at our lowest. Perhaps we are the two unnamed disciples who take up nets and oars with our comrades to shove out into deep waters to see how we might survive. Perhaps we believe our lives have brought us disappointment again. First, there was the death of Jesus, and now we have been fishing through the night yet have caught nothing.  Unexpectedly, a stranger calls out to us from the shoreline, urging us to cast our nets once more . . . but on the starboard side of the boat.

This is how it happened . . . When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (NABRE)

How could this possibly matter, we wonder? What difference can it make to change the side of the boat? We have strained ourselves to the limit and we have no more strength.

They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in. (MSG)

With this, Peter leaps from the boat and we question his actions as he flails his way to the shoreline; yet it is there – when the dawn is upon us – we realize that Christ has been with us all along.

When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”  (NABRE)

We see that Jesus is already baking fish on the open fire, but we add our own fish from the new catch, finally understanding that we are to join Christ in his work. A memory flickers through our minds of the 3 fish and 5 loaves that Jesus divided so that five thousand might eat. And as we settle around the warmth of the fire to take in this meal, we realize our work, we hear Christ’s call. Despite our discomfort with the unfamiliar, we know that we must return to Jerusalem to continue the discipleship Jesus has begun in us.

Regardless of our fatigue, we lean into our nets again. In spite of deep waters and dark nights, we leap from our small boat to thrash ashore so that we might share a meal with Christ. Although we have thought our suffering and fears went unnoticed, Christ has been with us, waiting with baked fish and bread to erase our exhaustion and nourish our hope. And suddenly the night slips away . . . . almost without our noticing . . . for it is already dawn.


When we compare other translations with the ones in this post, we begin to understand that despite the length of the night and the frustration of the work, Christ invites us to join him in our own renewal.

To read Matthew’s accounting of how Jesus feeds 5000, read Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-34, Luke 9:12-17 or John 6:1-14. Matthew (15:32-39) and Mark (8:1-9) also describe the feeding of 4000. 

Images from: https://www.dominicanajournal.org/burning-coals-for-breakfast/ and https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/cooking-steckerlfisch-over-an-open-fire-high-res-stock-photography/56298235

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Hosea 2: Expectation

Charlie Mackesy: The Prodigal Daughter

Thursday, January 11, 2018

What does God expect of me?

Where is God?

How can God expect so much from me?

Why does God allow me to feel so alone, exasperated, angry or sad?

If we hear ourselves asking these questions frequently, we may need to think of them as inversions.

What do I expect of God?

Where have I put God in my life?

Why do I ask so little of God?

Why do I forget God or turn away from God’s love when I am alone, exasperated, angry or sad?

Today we re-read the prophecy of Hosea, the man who married an adulterous wife and we focus on Chapter 2 to find a description of Gomer, the unfaithful wife.  Metaphorically, Gomer is each of us when we reject the conditions in which we find ourselves.  As difficult as our problems may be, they are our stepping stones to self-discovery . . . and to serenity.  Once we learn to turn everything over to God, the sorrow and anger slip away.  And we are at peace with the circumstances surrounding us.

Today’s Gospel is John’s story of the feeding of thousands (6:1-15) and we might look at how Jesus asks the disciples how they want to feed so many – John writes: He said this to test them.  This does not mean that Jesus wants to throw his friends into turmoil; rather, he wants to see how they hope to solve the problem before them.  Do they resort to their own resources, or do they rely on God in any way?

We must remember to ask for miracles, because God wants to grant them.

We must remember to take our woes to God, because God welcomes them and erases them.

We must remember to leave our sadness in God’s hands, because God heals all mourning with deep and abiding love.

Hosea laments his unfaithful wife.  God misses us when we stray.  Why do we try to solve everything on our own?  And why do we expect so little from a generous, loving God?

A Favorite from May 6, 2011.

For a video lesson on Hosea and Gomer, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XerNMZNmKF0 

 

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2 Corinthians 8:7-15: A Matter of Equality

Tissot: The Gathering of the Manna

Tissot: The Gathering of the Manna

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Frequent arguments arise about how to create social and political policy for the common good and this is natural. There will always be those among us who take advantage of generosity hearts. This incontrovertible fact causes worry and suspicion. It creates a feeling of ill will toward those who need the help of the fortunate. There will always be suspicion and bias in human relationships but this does not mean that we cannot practice Christ’s example in our small, everyday dealings with one another.

Though Christ was rich, for your sake he became poor . . .

Once we discover how we our sharing of wealth can be managed prudently, we might begin to offer more of our abundance to others.

By Christ’s poverty you might become rich . . .

As Jesus so often tells us, our treasure must lie in our actions rather than the goods, property and fame we have stored up in this world.

Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.

Paul reminds his readers that God dealt with the Israelites in the desert with generosity and grace by providing water from rock, and quail and manna from the sky. The real miracle in this story is not so much that sustenance appeared out of nowhere, but that there was enough for all.

Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less. (Exodus 16:18)

This generosity and plenty will again be seen when Jesus feeds thousands with a few fish and loaves offered by a child. (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 and John 6)

There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people? So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten (John 6:9 and 13)

And so Paul sends us this message: Brothers and sisters: As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also.

All that have and all that we are is gift from God. Jesus himself, although he is divine, tells us that he does the will of the creator. How then can we refuse to imitate Christ in his generosity for us? How then can we reject the idea of sharing the abundance we have at this present time?

As we meditate on this reading today, let us consider where our wealth lies. It may be physical in that we own much and we may have worked quite diligently for this abundance. Yet is it not God who gives us this plenty and how can we not share it?

Our wealth may be spiritual or psychological. Again, was it not God who blessed us with this equanimity? How can we not share the benefit of stable mind and heart when God has given this sense of balance to us in the first place?

As we spend time with these verses and compare varying versions of these stories by clicking on the scripture links, let us also pledge to share our wealth in some way with those who have less. And let us commit to sharing a portion of this plenty with those who have far less than the gifts we have received from God.

If you find yourself without a cause to which you might devote yourself, click on the words Social Justice in the category cloud in the right hand column of this blog. Or enter the words Social Justice into the blog search bar and explore. If you already have a favorite cause, enter that information into the comment bar below and share it with others. In this way we come together in our reply to Christ’s invitation to share God’s gifts as a matter of equality.

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1 Samuel 9:16: Plightfishes and loaves

February 27, 2015

The Lord said to Samuel, “For I have witnessed their misery and accept their cry for help”.

Yahweh leads the Hebrew nation from slavery to freedom. The Lord guides Joshua as the tribes move into a promised land. God continues to abide with the faithful as they struggle through cycles in which they abandon God and return. We see God’s infinite capacity to heal and restore throughout the Old Testament. When Jesus arrives to incarnate God’s Word we are given a leader to follow, a brother to lean on, a vision of the world as it might be.

Matthew tells us in his Gospel: Seeing the people, Jesus felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

Mark tells us how Jesus feeds thousands from very little because of the compassion he feels for the faithful. In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and said to them, “I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with me now three days and have nothing to eat.  If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance.” (Mark 8:1-3. Read more of this story at Mark 8:1-13)

The message is clear. When we suffer distress, we must call on God. When we see others who suffer, we must do all that we can to relieve their plight. In this way we deepen our relationships with others and with God. In this way we prepare for the Easter promise. In this way we become Christ for one another.

If there is time today, read more of the story about how Samuel listens to God’s word. Or spend time with the Gospels looking for signs of God’s care for us today. 

To learn more about the plight of the homeless and how we might feed them, click on the image above or visit: http://www.mohmsplace.org/2012/06/feeding-multitude.html 

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