This weeks gospel and readings put a heavy focus on eating and fulfilment. Jesus throughout his ministry is constantly sharing meals with those around him and this week, Jesus seemingly creates food from thin air.
The Gospel is the classic story of Jesus feeding the crowd with loaves and fishes. What is of particular importance is that this story is common across all four gospels and is retold a total of 6 times. In fact, this is the only miracle common across the four gospels making it quite special.
The fact that the Bible has included this story so much shows how important it was to the early Christian community.
So, as always, let’s look at the time that Jesus lived and what food meant to them. Food was nothing short of life. Access to food was a primary concern for many in the community. In addition to this, food had heightened importance compared to nowadays within ceremonies. The quality and quantity of food showed how important a person was within the community. Those who were rich and powerful ate bountiful amounts of delicious food, whereas, lowly peasants ate what little bread and fish they could.
Throughout the readings, the Bible calls us to eat plentifully and that the food we so desire will be given to us freely and then to top it all off, we will never thirst or starve again. In the time of Jesus, this was a beyond lofty promise.
Jesus was promising starving and thirsty people that they shall never have to be concerned with food again. Only in their wildest dreams was this a possibility.
Jesus partially fulfils this promise in the eyes of the people by feeding them loaves and fishes. While not extravagant food, Jesus allows them to eat as much as possible, a very rare and generous offering. Jesus however, is actually offering a much more substantial and lifegiving gift.
Nowadays, we lose the meaning of the story of Jesus feeding the hungry. While much of our global community still suffers from starvation, much of our Western world lives without fear of starvation or thirst so we cannot fully understand the crux of Jesus’ message. We must look deeper.
The spiritual food Jesus offers to us is just as vital to our spiritual survival within the western world as it is within the whole world. We are starving spiritually as much as anyone else. What Jesus offers is nourishment for our souls, the most important nourishment of all.
It has been said that our bodies are merely vessels that carry our souls. While it is very important to care for our bodies, our souls and its needs are of absolute importance. We can have starving vessels but nourished and happy souls. This fact is ultimately what Jesus wants us to know. Jesus wants us to know that our bodies will always crave more food, more water, it is unsatiable and will always crave for more. The soul, however, is a different story.
The soul, like our bodies, yearns for nourishment. Some things may feed our souls for a time, but the only thing that will truly feed us is Jesus Christ.
While this can be a hard thing to take in, especially for non-Christians, what we have to remember, is that Jesus takes form in many ways, just as physical food does.
So how do we know if we are full? Quite simple. How do you know if you are full after eating 4 serves of Christmas dinner? You have to undo your belt and lay down, you know you are full. So, how do we know we have full souls? You will radiate the light of Jesus in all its forms, you’ll know and so will all the people around you.