- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

January 8,2019

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

Tuesday After Epiphany
1 John 4:7-10; Ps. 72; Mark 6:34-44

St. Mark records: “Those who ate of the loaves were five thousand men” – he gives no number of women and children and for all these Jesus’ “heart was moved with pity.” The verb in the Greek carries a very profound meaning – to have pity, compassion, mercy from one’s depths – never mere sentiment. And this pity of the Lord Jesus infinitely exceeds in immensity and passion the number of the crowd.

This pity was no passing thing is clear since it moved Jesus to be The Shepherd for them – He taught them and nourished their souls – abundantly He nourished their bodies – in a word He was for them fully the Shepherd, the Savior of their humanity.

Jesus has this enormous crowd sit down in groups upon the green grass – this verse of Psalm 23 comes to mind: “…fresh and green are the pastures where He gives me repose…” Obediently, they took their places by hundreds and fifties. There is no carnival atmosphere and could we speculate that this gathering was sensing something profound was going to happen? There is a serenity, a solemnity, a peace all through this for Jesus is in command.

But there is something missing in this account, a huge gap – there are no details as to how the miracle took place. Jesus blesses five loaves and two fish and immediately the disciples carry an abundance to the people and “all ate and were satisfied.”  Did this crowd – so large and spread out – realize they were the receivers of a miracle – not unlike their ancestors gathering the manna? Who knows?

For us this Gospel is now – the Lord Jesus is moved for us with the same pity and is present to us as the same Divine Shepherd. In faith we gather here in serenity, in solemnity, in peace, for Jesus is in command. By a miracle, through the words of consecration, – a piece of unleavened bread and a cup of wine become His very Body and Blood to nourish us. We receive God Himself! We eat and are satisfied!

By the Lord’s merciful generosity, we have this incomprehensible gift every day. We live with a familiarity of this but may this familiarity never limit in us the wonder of this miracle which is always beyond our understanding. May this holy wonder lead us more and more into the spirit of thankfulness that marked Jesus’ own life.