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August 2, 1996     The Message
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August 2, 1996

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2,1996" The Message --for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 11 -- Commentary-- Jesus feeds five thousand: Eucharist or Good News? Gospel Commentary for Au- gust 4, 1996: Eighteenth Sunday: Ordinary Time: Cycle A.. Matthew 14:13-21 The miracle of Jesus feeding a huge crowd with bread and fish is one miracle that is cited in all four gospels. There are variations of the story as to location, time of the year, the number fed, who brought the bread and fish, and what was left over, bread and fish or bread only. Let us concern ourselves chiefly with Matthew's version of the mira- By FATHER DON DILGER COLUMNIST : cle. The Gospel of Mark seems to be the so, urce of the story for Matthew. He follows Mark s version quite closely but makes some changes. What are these changes and are they significant for the message Matthew intends to convey to his read- ers? He omits some of the dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. His purpose seems to be twofold. First, his omission of a statement by the disciples por- trays them as a bit brighter than the picture Mark usually paints of their dullness and outright stupid- ity. Secondly, he omits Jesus' question: "How many loaves have you?," and the command, "Go and see!" If these changes occurred only in this instance, nothing much could be made of it, but Matthew is consistent throughout his gospel in portraying the disciples more positively than Mark does and in portraying Jesus as knowing the answers without asking any questions to gain knowledge. Thus these small changes are consistent with Matthew's principles. Matthew makes two other changes in Mark's story, changes that may or may not be significant. One of the those changes is consis- tent with Matthew's portrayal of Jesus' miracles throughout his gospel. He consistently exaggerates. While Mark clearly states that Jesus fed five thousand men (males), Matthew adds, "besides women and children." Not only does this make sense, but it is entirely consistent for Matthew, who portrays Jesus as cur- ing two blind men on two occasions in which the Marcan versions have Jesus curing only one blind man. The same happens in Mark's version of Jesus curing the insane man who broke his chains and ran around naked in a cemetery. In Matthew the demon-pos- sessed man becomes two men. Either Matthew had double vision or throughout his gospel he intends to heighten the effect of Jesus' miracles. One should not be shocked by such changes in the inspired text. This is the nature of story-telling. It is the message that is important in a story; not the details by which the message is conveyed. The final change Matthew makes, a change that seems significant, is the disappearance of the fish. In Mark, Jesus blesses both bread and fish, gives the bread to the disciples to distribute, then "he divided the two fish among them all." At the end of the Mar- can story the disciples gather not only the "frag- ments" of bread left over but also pieces offish. Not so in Matthew. Although Jesus blesses the fish, Matthew does not say that he gave them to the disci- ples or to the cro@d. The fish have disappeared from the story. Why? The answer seems to be in the influ- ence of the Last Supper story of the institution of the Eucharist. Whatever happened historically in the feeding of the five thousand people, when the story was told over and over for many years, it was formed in the vocabulary of the institution of the Eucharist by which Jesus feeds the Christian people. Thus the story of feeding five thousand uses these terms: "looked up to heaven, blessed, broke, gave to the dis- ciples." There were no fish at the Last Supper. We can be certain, therefore, that one lesson Matthew teaches in relating this miracle is that Jesus continues to feed his people, his Church, through his disciples in the Eucharist. Thus the strong command Jesus gives in the story: "YOU give them something to eat!" But is there another lesson? Without any doubt! The answer is found in Matthew 16:5-12 immediately after Jesus feeds a second group of four thousand males "besides women and children." Jesus and his disciples are in a boat on the sea. Jesus says: "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." His disciples argue about who forgot to bring the bread for lunch. No one did. Jesus scolds them for arguing over material bread and not understanding that the abundance of bread in feeding the crowds had a very different meaning: "\\;y don't you understand that I was not talking about bread when I warned you against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?" Matthew adds that finally the disciples understood that he was telling them to beware of the teaching of those men. In other words, the teaching of Jesus as presented' by Matthew's gospel is to he substituted for the teachings of the religious leadership they had fol- lowed before. Thus the miracle of feeding the crowd teaches not only that Jesus feeds his Christian peo- ple in the Eucharist, but also in the gospel, the Good News. Readings: Isaiah 55:1-3: Romans 8:35, 37-39 JONES BODY SHOP • Front end alignment • Complete body rebuilding • Radiator Service Estimates Given Call 254-5358 07 E. South -- Washington, IN D.O-W.N-T'O'W'N 01 MAIN ST. • VINCENNES, IN 47591 Peoples Trust Company SOUTH MAIN STREET P.O. BOX 191 LINTON, INDIANA 47441 AN'S FIRESTONE ' SERVICE, INC. 1400 W. Franklin Evansville, IN M&S Fire & Safety Co. Inc. Over 25 years sales and service in the Tfi-state • 424-3863 Main Street Pharmacy St., Oomtow. Washingtm Phone: 254-5141 Golden Jubilarians John R. and Dorothy (Gies) Smith of Evansville will cele- brate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a dinner for their children and grandchildren at 6 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Knights of Columbus. The couple was married Aug. 6, 1946, at St. Anthony Church, St. Anthony. They are the parents of four children: Donald It. Smith of Wadesville, Mark A. Smith of Mount Vernon, and David L. Smith and Cheryl A. Miller, both of Evansville. They have 11 grandchildren. Mr. Smith retired from Smith Service Center in 1985. IH NAAS & SONS, INC. "'"uI'IP. Excavating & Trucking • Backhoe .Dozing .Trenching •Stone ,,Gravel °Asphalt • Complete Septic System & Water & Sewer Lines °Residential and Commercial 768-6450 "Tn/Our Serv/ce" aa FAX 812-768-5518 Rad/o Dispatched R.FL #1 (2 miles W. on 68), Haubstadt II SCHNEIDER Larry at 768-5806 Mark at 867-7789 Tom at 768.5009 HEATING & A/C. INC. 24 HR SERVICE 428:2665 118 W. Franklin St., Evansville, IN Golden Jubilarians Sylvester and Dorothy (Buehta) Stenftenagel +'ill celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanks- giving at 11 a.m. Aug. 11 at Precious Blood Church, Jasper. A dinner for the immediate family and invited guests will follow at St. Mary's Community Center in Ireland. An Open House for relatives and friends will be held from .2:30 to 4"d10 p.m. at the community center. The couple requests no gifts. They were married Aug. 12, 1946, at St. Joseph rectory in Jasper. They. are the parents of four children: Sylvia Woodall, David Stenftenagel, Barbara Fischer and Sharon Schmitt. They have nine grandehil three greatgrend. children, four step-grandchildren, and seven step-great. grandchildren. Mrs. Stenftenagel  employed fin- 20 year. with General Electric in Tell City. Mr. Stenftenagel retired from the coal mining and trucking businen. "Where customers send their friends/" Open nightly til 9 p.m00 OLD US 231 SOOTH • JASPER. IN • 4-2222 1-800-937-USA1