Seventeenth Sunday B in Ordinary Time Jn 6, 1-15
Could money and fragrant bread.
Today I would like to start with a short story. An Indian boy, growing up on the prairie, came to the city once to visit. They were walking through a busy street full of people. Suddenly the boy stops and says to his friend, who was at home in that town, “Be careful, can you hear that?” The Indian boy took a few steps and bent behind one large concrete flowerpot. When his friend approached him, he also saw what the little Indian had heard and searched for: a little cricket making barely audible noises. “Didn’t you really hear him?” The Indian boy asked. The city man began to sage (as the inhabitants of modern cities like to do): “You know, you Indians, who have lived in close connection with nature since childhood, have better developed hearing.” “That’s not true, I can do it for you,” the Indian replied, pulling out the smallest coin. He threw her on the sidewalk among the walking people. The bouncing coin barely audibly rang. And though this sound was fainter than the voice of a squirrel, all passers-by looked around. The Indian commented: “Although we have about the same sensitive hearing, everyone only hears what is important to them.”
After this story, we might ask ourselves if we are listening to God’s Word, and even if we give it time and attention, how much of that personal message are we able to hear and receive for us?
We have heard one story from the evangelist John of Jesus’ life. It would be good if we heard not only a story in it, but God’s Word with a vibrant and current communication… (How much of the story we have is very subjective… imagine an old black and white photo…, someone will react: foreign pictures, boredom, give it away… another dream… the couple in the photo, how they look at each other beautifully, how they probably liked… the expert may be researching the technique the photo was taken and can speculate for a long time about whether it was successful… and someone else he cries the photo, because his grandparents, who are no longer alive, have heard of their great love and owes this love for his own life…).
The photograph of today’s gospel is the family album of God’s revelation is very significant. This is evidenced by the fact that the story of the miraculous satiety of the crowd is described in all four Gospels (none of the miracles of Jesus receive so much attention), even up to six times – always a little differently. Let’s see how the author of the fourth – the youngest gospel, seized this story. It was either up to six different levels or one story, retold in different ways, depending on what the evangelist wanted to communicate…
Let’s look at the details. The time is essential: “They were close to the feast of the Jewish Passover.” This story is Easter; it has to do with liberation from slavery.
This is also underlined by geographical data… Jesus crossed to the other side of the sea and a large crowd of people with him. The lake, which is not so big, you can see the other shore, is called the sea here. It is an obvious allusion to the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Jesus is the new Moses – the deliverer. And it was important for the evangelists to emphasize that just as Moses miraculously fed his people in the wilderness, so does Jesus… And it happens on the hill where they ascended, where he meets or meets the earth, where God can be experienced.
There are two ways to live your life. One is expressed in a biblical image from the Book of Genesis. After sin, man, knowing that it is wrong, that order, harmony in the world, and relationships are disturbed, hears that God is coming. What will he do? Hiding. Yes, this is one possible alternative to living life – to hide from God, to live on the run from him, and it can go so far as to declare that there is no God. The second way to live life is expressed in the image of a chosen people who, after liberation from Egypt, travel through the desert to the promised land. He’s not there yet, but he’s on his way. He knows where he’s going, he has to work hard, and sometimes very hard, but he knows what the point is. He goes… And even when he is tired or disgusted or wakes up, he always re-motivates himself and steps forward. And God feeds him on this path… This is a picture of a well-understood existence: To be a pilgrim.
We are used to calling the deed of Jesus a miraculous multiplication of bread. It is close to us because we would like to have a God who will do for himself what transcends us, what we cannot do. But it is interesting that the evangelist deliberately avoids the verb “reproduction.” He uses other verbs… It does not satisfy our curiosity and natural desire for sensations (we would like to know what was done in Jesus’ hands, what “technique” he used… The author focuses more on helpful descriptions, which reveal our mentality, which we are to adopt if we want to belong to those saved, new people.
First, Jesus tests his provocative question, “Where do we buy bread to eat?” This corresponds to the mentality of the old world, in which it works that man perfectly
He can accumulate indefinitely and long-term hard and cold money. He exchanges in good time for a soft, tasty bread that cannot be collected because it is perishable… Philip calculates to finally conclude that everyone must come to if he wants to be God: We can’t solve it; this task is beyond us. This is the first step. Andrew takes the second step, coming up with a proposal that is not enough to solve the problem, but it is at least something, in fact, everything that can be done.
Part of the rescue plan is a boy, a young man. It is a popular way of (symbolic) action to save God; let’s mention the young David fighting against Goliath…
The young man is a symbol of a new person. The child does not perceive the problem yet. The old man perceives him, sometimes too much a, and muddles, speculates, tries to save at least himself “his own,” or resigns. The young man will do what he can, make available what little he has. And things move…
The evangelist does not say that Jesus multiplied bread and fish. It uses other verbs…
He “took” the bread that was given to him.
“He gave thanks”… God is here… It’s his fight…
“He gave away”… is an essential verb… He who wants to accumulate, collect, turn bread into money loses… Let us remember the story of manna, which is a forerunner of the story of Jesus… Who wanted to order more, so that he also has to stockpile had an “iron reserve,” it went wrong…
And everything was enough, abundant. God acts is not an emergency, but it must not be wasted, hence collecting detachments.
This is a story of crowding satiety, which is an instruction of the mentality of the new, transformed world of those who are saved and wander…
How did the audience understand him then?
Jesus’ contemporaries did not understand the story of the satiety of the crowds, so he left them… How do we know this important story?
When we look at old photographs, they evoke memories of what we have experienced and what we know… And emotions… The stronger the story, the more vivid, more prosperous, and powerful the memories are.
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