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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Come and Eat! Be Satisfied!

A Reflection on Matthew 14:13-21 N.A.B.

By: Larry T

Servers rushing about, all kinds of rare and delicious foods piled high on serving platters; fine wines flowing freely; endless toasts, boisterous laughter, musicians, entertainment, and even dancing – it was a birthday bash – a royal birthday banquet.

At this banquet Herodias skillfully maneuvered Herod into ordering the murder of John the Baptist.

When Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been savagely murdered he tried to withdraw to a deserted place to be alone, but an enthusiastic crowd followed him. And when Jesus stepped from the boat to dry land the massive throng was there to greet him. He took pity on them and healed their sick. Ultimately this event concluded with a satisfying meal – Jesus’ banquet.

13 When Jesus heard of it, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
14 When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
15 When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”
16 [Jesus] said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”
17 But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
18 Then he said, “Bring them here to me,”
19 and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking  the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
20 They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full.
21 Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.
- Matthew 14:13-21 N.A.B.

The sharp contrast between Herod’s banquet and Jesus’ banquet is clear. At Herod’s banquet there was resentment, arrogance, scheming, and murder. It took place in a royal court. At Jesus’ banquet there was healing, trust, and sharing. It took place in a deserted location – like the wilderness in which ancient Israel was fed with manna and quail.

Reading that Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples should remind us of his institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper:

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” – Matthew 26:26 N.A.B.

We might also recall that Elisha, the Old Testament prophet, fed a hundred men with twenty loaves of barley and a few fresh ears of corn.

42 A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing the man of God twenty barely loaves made from the first fruits, and fresh grain in the ear. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.
43 But his servant objected, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha insisted. “For thus says the LORD, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’”
44 And when they had eaten, there was some left over, as the LORD had said.
- 2 Kings 4:42-44

There are some parallels between Jesus’ banquet and Elisha’s banquet, but the number of people fed by Jesus is much larger than those fed by Elisha, a sign of Jesus’ superiority.

Still, the multiplication of fish and loaves of bread should point us beyond the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist to one more banquet, to the kingdom of God pictured by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.

6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts
     will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
     juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. -
Isaiah 25:6 N.A.B.

Reflecting on the feeding of the Israelites in the wilderness with manna and quail, Elisha’s feeding of one hundred men with twenty barley loaves and a few ears of corn, Jesus’s multiplication of five loaves and two fish for five thousand men not counting women and children, and Jesus’ institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper to Isaiah’s vision of the kingdom of God as a heavenly feast gives us a way of linking our present day experience of sharing in the Eucharistic meal to its rich biblical background, and our future hopes as God’s people.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent Larry! Your comparisons are thought provoking! As always you break open these very familiar Gospel passages and I am enriched!


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