2 Kings 4:42-44
A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing to Elisha, the man of God, twenty barley loaves made from the firstfruits, and fresh grain in the ear. Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.” But his servant objected, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat.” “For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.'” And when they had eaten, there was some left over, as the Lord had said.
Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he 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. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
He withdrew to the mountain alone! That is what the Gospel of John tells us today. Jesus recognizes that the motivation of His followers is not right. They still want an earthly king, someone who will give them all they want. Jesus wants them to recognize how God really works in their lives and to seek the will of God, not miracles and great works.
The first reading today, from the Second Book of Kings, gives us the account of the Prophet Elisha feeding a large number of people with a little food. This helps us understand that God is always at work, not only in the time of Jesus and through Jesus, but always God is at work. Perhaps too often we think of the miracles of Jesus as something new. Or we think that the teachings of Jesus are all new. Instead, we are invited to understand Jesus as the fulfillment of all that has gone before Him and of all that will come after Him. Jesus is truly the center point of all of history and needs to be the way in which we understand all that has been and all that will be.
This center point is perhaps best expressed in the words of the second reading today, from the Letter to the Ephesians: one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. This unity is always present in all of history. The challenge is that our eyes and our ears and our hearts are often closed and do not see the connections and the unity.
As we return to the passage from the Gospel of John which is our Gospel today, we see this wonderful miracle, which John always considers a sign. A sign is meant to point to something else and not to itself. The real danger of miracles is that we can get caught by them, want them, long for them—and not see them as pointing to the Kingdom of God, directing you and me to live in the Kingdom. When we are hungry, we want real food and not a sign! If we are sick and dying, we want a true miracle and not a sign pointing us to the Kingdom.
Faith tells us, however, that signs are actually more important than the miracle itself. Encountering the presence of the living God in this life is more important than eating or recovering from serious illness. That takes a lot of faith! On the other hand, if we think about it, what a wonderful gift to meet the living God personally, rather than just to have food or health! Sure, that takes faith! And we could be like some of the saint who would say: I want it all!
So let us ask for all today. Let us ask for the food to feed our hunger and for the miracles for our health and wellbeing. Let us ask most to know the living God and His love for us.