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July 25, 1997     The Message
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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 rnentary -- Mark to John: Jesus feeds five thousand Commentary for July Seventeenth Sunday: +   Time: Cycle B: John cycle of readings from the of Mark will be replaced by from chapter six of the n for the next five Sun- ins where we left the labt Sunday, just By FATHER multiplies a few loaves DON DILGER a few fish to feed five COLUMNIST in the area north- of Galilee. A multi- peot / Jesus' healing activity fol- Jesus goes up into the hills with his John interjects an important note: it was of Passover. From a mountain Jesus could crowd before him. He discussed with Philip how they were to feed such a Philip suggests an amount of two hun- i.e. the equivalent to two hundred Wages would be insufficient to buy food for iAadrew reports that they found a boy with bread and two fish. Jesus orders to get the crowd of about five thousand Jesus prays ("gives thanks") over the bread and fish to all present. the disciples to gather leftovers. They fill with leftover bread. The fish disap- oThe people acclaim Jesus as "the prophet come into the world." this is one miracle recorded in all four gospels, the Gospel of John gives it special In John's plan the feeding of the five becomes one of seven great miracles which The seven great signs or miracles the first eleven chapters of John, thus chap- "12 are referred to as the Book of Signs. Each has a major lecture or discourse of Jesus after the sign to explain the signifi- cance of the sign or miracle for John's theology. Jesus' lecture and discourse furnish the contents of the gospels for the next four Sun- days. Today's gospel is concerned only with John's preliminary remarks, the miracle, then closing remarks. John begins with a reference to crossing the Sea of Galilee. This recalls the Israelites passing over the Reed Sea into freedom from slavery. This event is connected by the Book of Exodus with the first Passover meal. Thus John will note that Jesus' feeding of the multitude occurred on Passover. John had already noted earlier in the gospel that Jesus brings truth. Later he will write that this truth will bring freedom: "If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." John will return to the theme of the Israelites crossing the sea when the disciples at the command of Jesus embark upon the sea, are in danger from the wind, and are rescued by Jesus walking on the sea and bringing them to land instantly. He rescues them from chaos and brings them to safety as Moses rescued his peo- ple and led them to safety across the sea. During the miracle of feeding the crowd John situates Jesus on "THE" mountain with his disciples. Readers and hearers of the story are to recall how Moses, his dis- ciples, and seventy elders of Israel feasted before the Lord on Mt. Sinai, Exodus 24:9-11. Of the preliminary remarks the most impor- tant seems to be that it was the feast of Passover. This is intended to remind John's Christian readers not only of the ancient Passover feast connected by the Book of Exodus with Israelite freedom, but also that Jesus has perfected the Passover, that he is himself the Passover Lamb. John will touch on this theme in 19:14, where he places Jesus' condemna- tion to death at noon of the day of preparation of the Passover, the very moment when the priests in the temple began to slay the Passover lambs. Long before John, Paul had written in I Corinthians 5:7, "Christ our Passover has been sacrificed." There fol- lows a discussion between Jesus and Philip. John says Jesus was testing him. The purpose of the dis- cussion seems to be that Jesus involves the disci- ples in feeding the crowd just as we heard from the Gospel of Mark last Sunday how Jesus involved his disciples in teaching and healing. Further involve- ment of the disciples is shown by Andrew's contri- bution and Jesus' ensuing command that the disci- ples get the people to sit down and later on to gather the leftovers. That Jesus "gives thanks" is significant because from the Greek word "to give thanks" is derived our term for the body and blood of Jesus and the action which makes it present. "Eucharist." We know from other literature, e.g. from a docu- ment called 'he Didache" or "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" that Christians of John's time were already referring to their commemoration of the Last Supper as "Eucharist." Thus we read in the Didache: "Concerning the Eucharist, conduct Eucharist as follows .... "Then the author explains the commemoration of the Last Supper. The feeding of the crowd by the mountain recalls how God through Moses fed the Israelites with manna and quail in the wilderness. This theme will be taken up in the discourse that follows the miracle. The twelve baskets of leftovers picked up by the disciples also recalls the feeding of the Israelites, the twelve tribes. John teaches that Christians are the true Israelites, that God contin- ues to feed them through Jesus, then through his disciples. The bread is in their hands John will return to this theme when he commissions Peter to "feed my lambs, feed my sheep." Finally, Jesus is called "the prophet who is to come into the world," a reference to Deuteronomy 18:15-18, a promise of a new Moses. Jesus is that new Moses who leads and feeds his people. Thus John's miracle story is a trea- sury of Old Testament lore in Christian catechesis. Readings: II Kings 4:42-44; Ephesians 4:14. cil 6679 INDIANA Rudy F/ora/Des00 Fresh Flowers, Silk Arrangements Gift Items 207 N.E. 5th Street Washington, Indiana 47501 (812) 254-7200 Main Street Pharmacy 217 E. 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