Eucharist 1: Sign of the Kingdom
Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat. For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’”
2 Kgs. 4:44
When they had had their fill, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
This week we begin a series of Gospel readings that take us deep into the meaning of the Eucharist. We read selections from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. I would encourage you to spend the next several weeks reading, reflecting on, and praying with John 6. There is a depth of wisdom about the Eucharist expressed in this chapter.
The selection for this week (Jn. 6:1-15) places the miraculous front and center. We begin with the miracle of the “multiplication of the loaves”. This is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. In fact, it occurs twice in Mark and Matthew. It is an important miracle and highlights the importance of the gift of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a miracle in our midst.
This miracle of the multiplication of the loaves is a sign that points to the Kingdom of God. The twelve baskets collected point that out. Like the twelve tribes of Israel, or the twelve apostles, these twelve baskets indicate that the kingdom of God is coming. Through this miracle, Jesus is establishing that Kingdom.
This is clear to the crowds. They understand that Jesus is pointing to the coming Kingdom. How do we know? Because “Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king” (Jn. 6:15).
But the crowds (and the disciples) are still confused about what the Kingdom of God is about. They think only in material and external terms (food, power, etc… ) so Jesus withdraws from them.
God’s Kingdom is deeper than that. There is more to be uncovered about this mysterious kingdom and especially its mysterious king. Stay tuned for next week to find out more about Jesus and the reality of the Eucharist.
Parish Pastoral Leader