Lent 4 Laetare 2022

March 27, 2022 A+D
John 6:1–15


In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The feeding of the five thousand echoes the temptation of Jesus. There Jesus was starving in the wilderness, on the verge of death, and tempted to turn stones into bread. He quoted Moses: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Satan is influential in the wilderness again. He tempts the disciples to despair and the people to love bread and the stuff of creation above the Word. For the most part, unlike Jesus, they fail. They sin. They don’t want a Savior from sin, they want a bread king. If they have bread, they feel no need for the Word.

Jesus has come for the sake of these failures. He is the Word made Flesh. He provides bread not from stones or manna from heaven, but by an abundant multiplication of the boy’s gift distributed by the apostles, a foreshadowing of giving His own risen Body through bread.

Our theme for the day is driven by that reality. The providence, patience, and grace of God comes for the unworthy through means.

Vulnerability and Need

  1. Like the people in the wilderness, we often fail to recognize how weak we are, that our every breath comes from God, and that we are easily killed. We wander about without a plan, stumble into dangerous situations, while thinking we have it all under control. We are brought low by an arrogance that calls itself “common sense,” thinking it is actually superior to others, and that most people, unlike ourselves, are stupid. We suffer from incredible biases and pride. They mislead us and deceive us by false comfort and cause great harm to ourselves and to others.
  2. In pagans, this might be understood as ignorance but it cannot be so with us. We know the Creator and His mercy. Therefore our culpability is greater. Our vanity comes from a hardness of heart against God’s revealed will. We ignore His Word and assume it will always be there when we want it, that God will always rescue us. When we take God’s providence and patience for granted, we commit blasphemy and idolatry.
  3. Worst of all is our abuse of grace. When we behave as though God’s mercy and grace is deserved, that He will forgive us no matter what, when we commit premeditated sin willfully, repeatedly, without true remorse or any effort to amend our ways, we mock God and the gifts that He gives. This is highest blasphemy. It is unworthy of the calling to which we have been called. It is poisonous. If left untreated will destroy faith.
  4. We rightly learn then to see ourselves in the wilderness, on the cusp of destruction, having foolishing paid no attention to spiritual matters, mislead by pride and wicked men. We are starving for what God gives, in desperate need of His grace. There is nowhere else to turn. Without you, we perish, Lord. Save us.

God’s providence, patience, and mercy revealed in the miracle.

  1. The liberal view of the miracle: an inspiration to share
  2. It is not all wrong. Jesus did use the means of the boy’s bread for the miracle. The boy’s generosity was inspired by the teaching and love of Jesus. We should not despise the smallness of any gift. The widow’s mite would be an outrage against God from a rich man but it is the highest good from the widow. I notice too that there is no talk of the boy making a profit. He ate like the rest, until he was satisfied. But then it is gone. He gave it to the Church, in love, and what he gave is lost to him. That is OK because he gave it in love.
  3. But the idea that Jesus is trying to teach us how to share is blasphemy. He is the Giver not the sharer. He is the Almighty and His miracles are real. He works through means, but it is He alone who multiplies loaves and fish.
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