Introduction: In this text of John 6:1-15, the Evangelist brings up another miracle, the “multiplication of Loaves, which is presented in the same context as the previous passage of our ‘Lectio Divina’, just before the Jewish Festival/Passover. The intention of Jesus was to introduce a new Passover live in a more profound way and where no one is excluded from it. The full meaning of Jesus Passover is explained in his discourse of the Bread of Life which appears later in this same chapter.
We all need the Bread
You sent down from Heaven,
Your Son’s body, which
you gave to us to nourish our souls
and to give us life eternal.
Give me the courage too to be
Bread broken for others
especially those in great need
of acceptance, love and care.
- Read the text John 6:1-15 read the text slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
- Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
- Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord?
- Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Don’t say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
- Take now the word, sentence or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word lead you action.
Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection: The evangelist presents us in this passage the miracle of the multiplication of loaves which recalls the words of the Eucharist. There are some differences between John’s account and the other Gospels accounts, Mathew 15:29-38; and Mark 14:13-21, which we shall not discuss here for that is not the focus of our ‘Lectio Divina’ but what the text is actually saying to us in the context we are living here and now.
Central Message: …Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small peace each’. Andrew said, there is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many? Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready…After they have eating enough said to his disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted’…They collected 12 hampers with scarps left over. The people seeing this sign said ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world’. Jesus, who knew they wanted to make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.
a) Jesus saw the crowds approaching. There were thousands of people following him for the signs he worked curing the sick; they were convinced that he was the awaiting prophet who is to come into the world. Perhaps some of them were only curious about the miraculous works he did or some others had real faith in him as the Messiah, Son of God. But what Jesus really saw in them was, on the one hand the desire to make him an earthly and powerful king who could dominate the world and provide for them anything they wanted endlessly. On the other hand he also saw people with great hunger of acceptance, compassion, mercy, recognition, attention, care justice, love, etc. Jesus was the only one who could give them so, as he not only restored people to their original physical state but also by bringing them closer to God, giving them back to them the dignity of the sons and daughters of God.
b) ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small peace each’. Jesus must have felt compassionate towards the crowds as they walked long distances following him. He wanted to feed them all, some 5 thousand people, but as Philip said that they only had two hundred denarii not enough to feed them all. One denarius was the minimum salary for one day. So, for Philip’s logic that was not possible but for Jesus’ logic everything was possible, it’s enough to have faith, faith in his words, as Mary said “do as he tells you”. Jesus wanted to strengthen Philips faith and to be part of Jesus’s miraculous works if he just had obeyed the words of Jesus to go and buy bread perhaps it could have been enough for the people to eat. So Philip’s doubt could be seen a hindrance for Jesus to work a miracle as St Augustin said “God created you without you but He will not save you without you”.
c) ‘Andrew said, there is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Andrew seem a bit naïve but he shows more faith than Philip suggesting that Jesus could feed the five thousand with just the five loaves and the two fish hold by that boy that Andrew found. The boy, the five loaves and the two fish became the focus of attention in Jesus miraculous work. The boy represents Jesus, who is taken for granted or is insignificant in the eyes of the crowd but was able to offer all that he had; he hands over his daily ration of food. Five loaves and two fish were practically the daily ration of food for the poor. He is so generous keeping nothing for himself so that other can have more than enough to eat. This is Jesus who gives himself to us abundantly without distinction of race or colour of the skin. He is the bread that came down from heaven who the Father gave to the world abundantly so that those who eat this bred may have eternal life.
Some questions for our reflexion:
- How do I react in the face of hunger like Philip, like Andrew or like the boy?
- What is it that hinders you to be bread broken for others without discrimination?