Monday 4 August 2014

8th Sunday after Pentecost - Br. Simeon

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Homily preached by Br. Simeon at Winmalee on  Sunday 3rd August 2014:    


Gospel:   Matthew 14: 13-21

Jesus withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself . . .
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, Jesus said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord my strength and my redeemer. Amen.

This Gospel reading is one in which we can use our imaginations of this setting of the feeding of the five thousand. Can you possibly imagine, being in the midst of Jesus and his disciples and hearing Jesus say to them “ you feed them”! “Excuse me, you said what.... how, by what means Lord, we have nothing and certainly nothing that will feed this amount of people, all we have is five loaves and two fish”.  Just imagine as you read this passage, and through your imagination  see Jesus taking the five loaves and the two fish, and with  your own eyes, seeing the miracle that take place, that all these folk have been fed, awesome! Through this act of Jesus, we have the second act as the Eucharist, when Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper.

The multiplication of the loaves and fish is the only one of Jesus’ miracles recorded in all four Gospels. The early Christian community especially cherished this story because they saw this event as anticipating the Eucharist and the final banquet in the kingdom of God.

This miracle also has strong roots in the First Testament.  For the peoples of both the First and New Testament, the image of a great banquet was an important visualisation of the reign of God: the gifts of the land were unmistakable signs of their God’s great Providence; the Messiah’s coming was often portrayed as a great banquet with choice food and wines.

The miracle of the loaves and fishes is a clear affirmation in God's providence.  Just as the merciful God feeds the wandering Israelites with manna in the desert, Jesus, “his heart moved with pity,” feeds the crowds who have come to hear him.

In Matthew’s account, Jesus acts out of his great compassion on the crowds. First, he challenges the disciples to give what they have -- five loaves and two fish.  Then he performs the four-fold action that prefigures the Eucharist:

Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and gives the bread and fish to the assembled multitude, making of them a community of the Lord's banquet.

More astounding than Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand is Jesus’ transforming them into a community, a community who becomes one in their need, one in the bread they share, one in the love of Christ who has brought them together.

We, too, can perform wonders in our own time and place by imitating the four “Eucharistic verbs of Jesus: to take humbly and generously from what we have been given by God, to ask His blessing on it, to break by offering it to others in God’s love, to give with joy-filled gratitude to the God who has blessed us with so much.

The bread of the Eucharist, which we share together in charity and faith, today, is a prelude to the great banquet of the next world to which our loving Father invites us.
Christ calls us to become a Eucharistic people: to become the Eucharist we have received.