January 8 – Tuesday
Tuesday after Epiphany
Gospel: MK 6:34-44
In a very ritualistic way, Jesus took the loaves and bread, looked up to heaven [to his Father], said the blessing and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. The fish were similarly divided. All ate and were satisfied, there were twelve baskets of leftovers and altogether 5,000 people had been fed.
The whole passage has strong Eucharistic overtones. There is what we would now call the Liturgy of the Word when Jesus taught the people at length and the Liturgy of the Eucharist with the bread blessed, broken and distributed to the people in groups or communities. The amount left over points to the huge generosity of God in taking care of his children.
It is worth noting that Jesus does not distribute the bread and fish himself but delegates his disciples to do this. And that is how Jesus comes into people’s lives today – through the agency of his dedicated followers.
It is also significant that the feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle of Jesus which appears in all four gospels.
The breaking of the bread and its being shared out among all present is intended as a sign or symbol of the life of the Christian community, where all the resources of the community are shared and divided in such a way that none is in need. And this way of life is also to be fostered in the wider community. It is a story about the love of God for his people and how he takes care of them but that love is shown in practice by his people passing on that love, especially to those in need. If this does not happen then the Eucharist becomes a sign of nothing. It is simply reduced to an abstract ritual.
Prayer: (all together)
Lord Jesus, as we call ourselves Christians, help us to pass on the love that you have for us as we take care of the needs of each other and help those who are in need. Amen.