THE SIGNAL OF THE BREAD

Created: Wednesday, 26 November 2014 Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November 2014

THE SIGNAL OF THE BREAD


1. The multiplication of  the loaves is a signal that marks Jesus´ disciple (Jn 6; Mt 14, 13-21; Mk 6, 32-44; Lk 9, 10-17). John´s evangel presents seven: the transformation of water into wine (2, 1-12), the recovery of the public servant’s son (4, 46-54), the recovery of the paralytic (5, 1-18), the multiplication of the loaves (6, 1-15), the calmed storm (6, 16-21), the recovery of the blind from birth (9, 1-41), Lazarus´ resurrection (11, 1-54). At the end the miraculous fishing is added. (21, 1-8).
2. After the paralytic recovery, Jesus leaves Judea, he goes to the other side of the sea and he climbs to the mountain. He is opening the way to a new exodus. Many people follows him. Eastern, the feast of the Jews, is near, an Eastern that should be way to liberation. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw many people coming towards him, he asks his disciples: Where are we going to buy loaves to feed all these? Philip makes his computations: Two hundred denarius would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece. The denarius is the daily wage of a worker (Mt 20)
3. The problem overflows. Andrews, Simon Peter´s brother says: There is here a boy who has five barley loaves and two fishes; but what is this for so many people? Due to his age and condition, the boy lacks resources, but he is eager to share. Really, the whole situation (the barley loaves, the scepticism that it raises, the problem that is solved) have prophetic resonances (2 R 4, 42-44)
4. Taking apart the sceptic computations, Jesus says to his disciples: Tell the people to lay back. Luke´s evangel specifies: Make people sit down in groups of fifties (Lk 9, 14). In Elijah and Eliseo experience groups of fifties appear too (1 R 1, 4 and 13; 2 R 2, 7), Another detail: There was much grass in the place. The psalm of the expected king is accomplished: May grain abound throughout the land, waving and rustling as in Lebanon; may cities teem with people, as fields with grass (Ps 72, 16). There were about five thousand. The disproportion is total between what the boy has and the final results.

5. Jesus takes the loaves and gives thanks. With his action, Jesus teaches us which is the mission of the community: to put out God´s generosity, sharing what we have received from Him. In the logic of the society, it was not possible to share because there was not enough. In Jesus´ logic, sharing takes place and even there is in excess: They filled twelve baskets with bread, that is with pieces of the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.

6. Having seen the signal he had made, the people said: This is really the prophet who was to come to the world. It was announced (Dt 18, 15. 18). Jesus renews the signal of the exodus: he places a table in the middle of the dessert. But a dangerous interpretation comes up, from which Jesus will be accused during his process (Jn 18, 33). Jesus realized that they would come and take him by force to make him king; so he fled to the hills by himself. The solitude of the mountain allows Jesus to avoid external influences.

7. The signal marks Jesus´ disciple: You cannot serve both God and money. (Mt 6, 24). And also: Make friends with the unjust money (Lk 16, 9). The community shares its possessions and the Lord multiplies the loaves. Nevertheless, the signal provokes a crisis among the disciples. It is said in Saint Mark´s evangel: They had not really grasped the fact of the loaves; their minds were dull. (Mk 6, 52)

8. Dullness and opposition places the disciples in the middle of the storm. Already advanced the journey, they see Jesus walking over the sea, opening a way in the middle of the waters. His words calms then down: It is Me; don’t be afraid. (Jn 6, 20). When they meet Jesus again, the temptation is overcome. The storm that menaces the boat goes away.

9.The following day, people looks for Jesus, but not because they had seen his signals, but in base to other reasons.  As if they were seeking to accomplish God’s will, they tell him: What are the works that God wants us to do?. Jesus answers: The work God wants is this: that you believe in the One whom God has sent. The signal given to them is useless, they ask for other. They are Jews in heritance and tradition, and they go back to Moses: Our ancestors ate manna in the desert; as Scripture says: They were given bread from heaven to eat.”. Jesus puts Moses in his place. Besides, it is not possible to live in the past, but in the present: it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. The bread God gives is the One who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.

10. They then tell him: Give us always this bread. Jesus tells them: I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in me shall never be thirsty. Nevertheless, as I said, you refuse to believe, even when you have seen. The signals identified themselves with the person of Jesus. The one who is on the side of the money and of the power, does not see them. The one who does not perceive the signals, does not believe. What he does is to gossip, as his parents did in the dessert. He does not understand the signal of the loaves, he does not understand either the bread of life announced by Jesus.

11. The catechesis about the bread of life includes a fundamental aspect of the message of Jesus, the resurrection. The eternal life to which the dead resurrect is already in possession of those alive who believe in Him. Jesus says: Though your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, they died… I am the living bread which has come from heaven; whoever eats of this bread will live forever. The bread I shall give is my flesh and I will give it for the life of the world.”

12. The Jews discussed among them saying: How can this man give us flesh to eat? They understand it in literal meaning. They do not understand Jesus´ mission that fives life to the world. They do not understand either this: his presence feeds us. The key is this: cohabitation (inhabitation). He lives in us, we live in him: Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood, live in me and I in them. He said it in the synagogue of Capernaum.

13. Many said: This language is very hard! Who can accept it? They, really, distort the message, murmur, scandalize. Jesus tells them: But among you there are some who do not believe. From then on many of his disciples do not walk with him any more. Jesus asks to the twelve: Will you also go away?. Peter answers: Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Jesus do not get his hopes up about anyone. The fact of having been elected does not guarantee neither the  continuation nor the fidelity: I chose you, the Twelve, did I not? Yet one of you is a devil.” He was talking about Judah, one of the twelve, who will delivery him.

* For personal and group reflexion:
    We share
    The Lord multiplies the loaves
    We thank him
    We do not understand the signal, we go into the storm
    The Lord opens a way in the middle of the storm
    He is the bread of life, his presence feeds us and lives in us
    We have eternal life
    This language is hard
    Many did not walk with him any more, will you also go away?
    Where shall we go?