Reflection on John 6:1-21 Ninth Sunday after Pentecost – July 25, 2021

Gospel of John 6:1-21

Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

Let us Pray: We give you thanks and praise, O God, for you offer us the banquet that feeds us abundantly and fills us with your presence. Therefore, with our hearts lifted high we always offer you thanks and praise through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.

There are several interesting observations on this Sunday’s gospel. We have been reading the Gospel of Mark and suddenly, we change to Gospel of John.  How come? One explanation I found was John’s Gospel was more spiritual. It has been called ‘the spiritual gospel, not because the others are unspiritual, but because it has a special way of drawing our attention to who Jesus is and challenging us to make a personal response to him. The other note is all four gospel writers have written about feeding the 5000. There may be some small deviations but the story is the same. The miracle of feeding the 5000 is not so much about what Jesus did but why these things happened and what the crowd was able to experience. The power of Christ in feeding them made them feel comfortable because they sensed that this meal was special. It is how when we share our blessings with others, they can feel special, and it should make us feel special also. The presence of this story in all the Gospels is a clear indication that this was an important event for those first believers, capturing as it does Jesus’ concern for both the material and the spiritual needs of people.   No doubt on this occasion the disciples would have been hoping for Jesus to give comforting direction to the tired and hungry, but religion as Jesus would have it is more than just words, it is the living of one’s true values. For some they will see the miracle of the loaves and fishes as a convincing example of Jesus’ power, something perhaps to wonder at for being totally beyond our ability to follow. On the other hand, there may be those who find in this story an insight into the values Jesus lived and invites his followers to share. When they were sick, Jesus healed them, when they were sad, he encouraged them, and when they were hungry, he fed them. They found their fulfillment in Jesus, whom they called the Lord.  Today we can continue to find fulfillment in knowing Jesus our Lord. And as Jesus did, do we today look for our own wilderness to escape or are we thankful for a crowd of 5000 to share our bread and fish with?

Let us Pray: May God’s wonderful love be with you everywhere. May Christ Jesus feed you with His body and word. And may the Holy Spirit confirm the truth in you and fill you with God’s presence always. In the Name of Christ.  Amen

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