ACTS 5: 34 – 42
In those days: A Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, held in honour by all the people, stood up and ordered the apostles to be put outside for a while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you do with these men. For before these days Theudas arose, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was slain and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name. And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 27: 1, 4, 13 – 14 (R) 4ac
R/. There is one thing I ask of the Lord, to live in the house of the Lord.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
whom should I dread? R/.
There is one thing I ask of the Lord,
only this do I seek:
to live in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord,
to inquire at his temple. R/.
I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong;
be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord! R/.
Matthew 4: 4b
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
He distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.
JOHN 6: 1 – 15
At that time: Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased. Jesus went up into the hills, and there sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the hills by himself.
The Gospel of the Lord.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Superabundance
April 21, 2023
“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.” (John 6:12–13)
John’s Gospel is filled with much symbolic meaning. The passage above concludes the story of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. After feeding the multitude of people with only five barley loaves and two fish, they were able to fill twelve wicker baskets with what remained. What was the reason for the extra?
Saint Augustine, in commenting upon this passage, explains that Jesus provided more than the people could eat as a way of symbolically representing spiritual truths that were beyond what the vast crowds could comprehend. Thus, Jesus’ teachings spiritually nourished the crowds to the point that they were fully satisfied. But even though the general crowds were satisfied with what Jesus taught them, there was still so much more that He had to teach. These deeper spiritual truths are represented by the extra twelve baskets.
The twelve baskets represent the Twelve Disciples. They were the ones specially chosen by Jesus to receive so much more. Recall the times when Jesus taught the crowds in parables and then, later, would explain the meaning to the Twelve in private. He revealed to them certain truths that most people could not understand and accept.
It is helpful to consider three different groups of people in this miracle and apply those groupings to us today. The first group of people are those who were not even present for the miracle. Those who did not make the journey to be with Jesus in the wilderness. This is the largest group of people within society who go about their daily lives without even seeking minimal nourishment from our Lord.
The second grouping of people is this “large crowd” who followed Jesus to the remote side of the Sea of Galilee to be with Him. These represent those who diligently seek out our Lord every day. These are those who are faithful to the celebration of the Mass, the reading of Scripture, to daily prayer and study. To this grouping of people, our Lord teaches many things, and they are nourished by His holy Word and Sacraments.
The third grouping of people, the Twelve Disciples who are represented by the Twelve wicker baskets left over, are those who are exceptionally faithful to our Lord and continue to be nourished by Him in a superabundant way. These are those who seek to understand and embrace the deepest spiritual truths so as to be nourished and transformed on the deepest level.
Reflect, today, upon the fact that the spiritual food our Lord wishes to offer you is most often far more than you can immediately accept and consume. But understanding that fact is the first step to disposing yourself to receive even more. As you reflect upon this superabundance of spiritual food from our Lord, recommit yourself especially to seek out that remaining “twelve wicker baskets” of spiritual truths. If you do, you will discover that there is truly no end to the transforming depths of the gifts of grace our Lord wishes to bestow upon you.
My most generous Lord, You not only give spiritual nourishment to Your people, You give it in superabundance. As I daily seek You out and am filled with Your mercy, help me to never tire of feasting upon the superabundant gift of Your grace. Please do nourish me, dear Lord, and help me to consume Your holy Word. Jesus, I trust in You.