39. Seven loaves and few little fishes
IN those days the multitude being great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples, and saith,
I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way.
For divers of them came from far.
His disciples say, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? Jesus saith,
I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. How many loaves have ye?
They said, Seven, and a few little fishes.
He commanded the people to sit on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before the people. The few small fishes he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.
So they did all eat, and were filled. They took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that had eaten were about four thousand, beside women and children. He sent them away.
¶Straightway Jesus entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the coasts of Magdala, into the parts of Dalmanutha.
The Pharisees with the Sadducees came forth to question with him,seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. He sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith,
Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.
When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering.
O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.
Entering into the ship again, Jesus departed to the other side.
¶Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread; neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. Then Jesus charged them,
Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees, and of the leaven of Herod.
They reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them,
O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?
Do ye not understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
When I brake the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?
They answer, Twelve.
And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?
They said, seven. And Jesus said,
How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
¶Jesus cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him.He took the man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when Jesus had put his hands upon his eyes, he asked him if he saw aught. The man looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
Jesus again put his hands upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. Jesus sent him away, saying,
Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.
Scripture: Mark 8:1-10
Meditation 1 of 2:
Can anything on earth truly satisfy the hunger we experience for God? The enormous crowd that pressed upon Jesus for three days were hungry for something more than physical food. They hung upon Jesus’ words because they were hungry for God. When the disciples were confronted by Jesus with the task of feeding four thousand people many miles away from any source of food, they exclaimed:Where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them? The Israelites were confronted with the same dilemma when they fled Egypt and found themselves in a barren wilderness. Like the miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness, Jesus, himself provides bread in abundance for the hungry crowd who came out into the desert to seek him. The gospel records that all were satisfied and they took up what was leftover. When God gives he gives abundantly — more than we deserve and more than we need. He nourishes us with his life-giving word and with the bread of heaven.
The sign of the multiplication of the loaves when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes through his disciples prefigures the superabundance of the unique bread of his Eucharist or Lord’s Supper. When we receive from the Lord’s table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the “one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ” (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward. When you approach the Table of the Lord, what do you expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for your soul? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Do you hunger for the bread of life?
“Lord, you alone can satisfy. Fill me with gratitude and longing for the true bread of heaven which gives strength and healing for body and soul.”
Scripture: Mark 8:22-26
Meditation 2 of 2:
What’s worse than physical blindness? Blindness of heart and soul for sure! A blind man is led to Jesus by some friends. Without their help he could not have found the one who could restore his sight. Jesus understood the fears and hopes of this blind man who begged him to touch him. The blind in a special way perceive the power of touch. Jesus shows considerateness in bringing this man to a place away from the skeptics and gawkers. His sight is restored in stages as he responds to Jesus’ healing touch. Mark records this remarkable miracle in three short phrases: He looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home with a warning to avoid the company of those who live in spiritual darkness. Are there any blindspots in your life that cloud your vision of God and his kingdom? Allow the Lord to touch you with his grace and power that you may walk in the light of his redeeming truth and love.
Jerome, a third century father of the church, explains the spiritual significance of this healing for us: “Christ laid his hands upon his eyes that he might see all things clearly, so through visible things he might understand things invisible, which the eye has not seen, that after the film of sin is removed, he might clearly behold the state of his soul with the eye of a clean heart.”
“Lord Jesus, restore my sight to your revelation and to your healing presence. Help me to walk according to your truth and to not stumble in the darkness of sin. May I help others find your healing light and saving presence.”