16 February 2019
The Lord God called to the man. ‘Where are you?’ he asked. ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden;’ he replied ‘I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’ ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ he asked ‘Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?’ The man replied, ‘It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.’ Then the Lord God asked the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman replied, ‘The serpent tempted me and I ate.’
Then the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this,
‘Be accursed beyond all cattle,
all wild beasts.
You shall crawl on your belly and eat dust
every day of your life.
I will make you enemies of each other:
you and the woman,
your offspring and her offspring.
It will crush your head
and you will strike its heel.’
To the woman he said:
‘I will multiply your pains in childbearing,
you shall give birth to your children in pain.
Your yearning shall be for your husband,
yet he will lord it over you.’
To the man he said, ‘Because you listened to the voice of your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat,
‘Accursed be the soil because of you.
With suffering shall you get your food from it
every day of your life.
It shall yield you brambles and thistles,
and you shall eat wild plants.
With sweat on your brow
shall you eat your bread,
until you return to the soil,
as you were taken from it.
For dust you are
and to dust you shall return.’
The man named his wife ‘Eve’ because she was the mother of all those who live. The Lord God made clothes out of skins for the man and his wife, and they put them on. Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, with his knowledge of good and evil. He must not be allowed to stretch his hand out next and pick from the tree of life also, and eat some and live for ever.’ So the Lord God expelled him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he had been taken. He banished the man, and in front of the garden of Eden he posted the cherubs, and the flame of a flashing sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.
A great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said. Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them among the crowd. They had a few small fish as well, and over these he said a blessing and ordered them to be distributed also. They ate as much as they wanted, and they collected seven basketfuls of the scraps left over. Now there had been about four thousand people. He sent them away and immediately, getting into the boat with his disciples, went to the region of Dalmanutha.
“I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat”
When I was young (I won’t tell you how many years ago that was) and read the Gospel about the multiplication of loaves of bread and the few small fishes that fed thousands, I simply marveled at the miracle itself and nothing more.
Years later, when I read this passage again, I discovered how much I actually missed. The nuances within this Gospel reading deserve deeper reflection.
Our Lord Jesus is supremely intelligent, compassionate and merciful. He never says anything meaningless; and often, His words have deeper meaning than first thought. The bible itself is like a treasure trove, just when you think that you have discovered all, you find that there are more to it than meets the eye.
Jesus is loving and merciful. He was concerned that the people who were with Him for three days, had nothing to eat. He was not merely concerned about their physical being, but their spiritual well being as well. After all, at that time, they did not partake in the bread of life yet – the Holy Eucharist.
Coincidentally, the three days the crowd had been with Jesus is a foreshadowing of the three days before the resurrection; and the seven loaves and seven baskets of scraps are significant as well. Do they not remind you of the seven sacraments that nourish our souls?
Most, if not all of us, are hungrily searching for something — some meaning, some purpose to our lives. We often get distracted by the glitter, the lights and sounds of the secular world. Often, we indulge ourselves and gorge on the ‘junk food’ that is out there. Sure, they may taste wonderful at first, but if we only knew what they contain, how they are made, and the health risks involved, we would probably stay away from them. What more when it comes to our spiritual health? Would we willingly partake in things that could harm us or jeopardize our soul? Would we willingly risk losing eternal life in heaven for a few brief moments of pleasure on earth? Would we willingly follow the false prophets or the wolves in sheep’s clothing that would lead us into the harm’s way; rather than follow the one true shepherd that can guide us out of danger and into safety? Jesus is offering us real food that truly satisfies the hunger and for the good of our souls. It is up to us to decide if we want to partake.
I know what I would like to choose. True, I may stumble and make some bad choices now and then, but the Lord is always calling me, waiting for me so He can heal me. Like the sheep that listens for the shepherd’s voice, I want to listen for Jesus’ voice, to make the right choices and not fall into the traps and distractions that are devoid of sustenance for our souls.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to heed Your voice and Yours only. You are the true Shepherd that has our best interests and helps us to make the right choices.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank you for giving us Jesus, the bread of Life, true food for our soul.