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Homily for 8/10/08 - P8 - bread of life

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matt 14:14-22 Throughout the history of God’s people there has always been the image of bread as the symbol of the basic sustenance of life. Whenever we hear
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10, 2008
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      Matt 14:14-22

      Throughout the history of God’s people there has always been the image
      of bread as the symbol of the basic sustenance of life. Whenever we hear
      an account of how God provides for his people, bread seems to be
      involved. In the Old Testament, when the Hebrew people were traveling
      through the wilderness with no food, they were give manna, that is,
      bread from heaven. In this miraculous manner God provided for His people
      that which they needed to sustain life. Today in the Gospel we heard how
      God continued this miraculous provision for those who continued to seek
      Him by the feeding of the 5000. A great crowd – 5000 men plus women and
      children – had come to hear our Lord teach and to seek from Him healing
      for their various ills. He was to be found in a rural area where there
      were no provisions for bread or other food, but still they came until
      there was a great crowd. As evening came upon the crowd, the disciples
      came to Jesus to suggest that He send the crowd away before it was too
      late for them to find food. But Jesus told them, “You feed them.” The
      disciples didn’t know what to think – how could any one person, or even
      a small group such as the twelve of them, feed this crowd. Realizing
      their helplessness, they turned again to Jesus for help and He told them
      to go and find out what was available and bring it to Him. For all their
      searching, they only came up with 5 loaves of bread and two fishes that
      a boy had given them. Surely this was far from sufficient to feed such a
      throng of people. But Jesus took these offerings and gave thanks and
      then giving some to each of the disciples, He instructed them to
      distribute them to the people. Miraculously these loaves and fishes were
      multiplied so that they were not only sufficient to feed the whole
      crowd, but there were 12 baskets full left over. Again we see the
      abundant provision of God for His people in order to sustain their lives.

      According to the account of this same miracle in the Gospel of John, the
      next day our Lord identifies Himself as the Bread of Life which gives
      life to the world telling the people who came to Him, “I am the bread of
      life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is
      the bread which comes down from heaven, that one my eat of it an not
      die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any one eats
      of this bread, he will live forever.” Now is revealed the true nature of
      God’s provision for us. He, Himself, is the bread of life – He, Himself
      sustains our life in this world and in the world to come. Only from God
      Himself, not from bread or meat or any other food, are our lives
      sustained. And the sustenance of God sustains us not only in this life,
      but in the life in eternity.

      Jesus does not stop here, however, but provides even more detailed
      information for he says, “the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which
      I shall give for the life of the world.” And when his hearers were taken
      aback and even quarreled among themselves, trying to understand and
      interpret what He was saying, Jesus reiterated, “Most assuredly, I say
      to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood
      you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has
      eternal life…” In such a short step, Jesus moves his disciples from the
      example of God providing bread, the symbol and actual sustenance of
      earthly life, for His people to the reality that He Himself is the bread
      of life and the bread that he gives us to eat is His own flesh. Here,
      for the first time, the Mystery of the Body and Blood – the Sacrament of
      Holy Communion – is revealed to the world.

      Just as Jesus identified Himself as God who provides bread for His
      people by the miraculous feeding of the 5000 just as the Hebrew people
      had been fed by manna in the wilderness; He also reveals to us a further
      Mystery that He provides for us the food of eternal life, that is His
      Most Holy Body and His own Most Precious Blood. Because we cannot fully
      understand this reality, He give us His Body and His Blood in the guise
      of bread and wine which are changed in a manner past knowing into His
      own substance which we then receive.

      Let us back up for a moment and reflect on what we learn about Holy
      Communion, the ultimate food of eternal life, from the miracle of the
      feeding of the 5000. First we see that no earthly food is sufficient and
      no man can provide what is necessary for the sustenance of life. Our
      sustenance comes from God and without Him, we would be helpless and our
      lives would end. Second we see that in order to receive this sustenance
      from God we offer to Him what we have, no matter how insignificant or
      insufficient it may seem and He takes our offering and by His grace
      makes it sufficient. God does not just over-ride our lives and make our
      labors and efforts worthless. Indeed everything that we have, everything
      that we do, everything that we are falls far short of what God provides,
      but He takes what we give Him and transforms it – He gives us worth by
      allowing us, even requiring us, to cooperate with Him, to work in
      symphony with Him. We offer to Him bread and wine – which are all our
      works and which is obviously far from sufficient for our salvation – and
      He takes those and transforms them by His miraculous intervention to
      make them not only sufficient but abundant. This is the next lesson from
      this miracle. Although the 5 loaves and 2 fishes were meager and
      insignificant in the face of the need, in the end they provided not only
      for the need, but an abundance with more left over than was originally
      offered.

      Our sustenance is God Himself – whatever we need in this life, He
      provides. When we need food, He provides bread in abundance. When we
      need water, He gives us living water to drink that we might never
      thirst. When we seek to enter into His Kingdom and to live eternally in
      union and communion with Him, He gives us Himself, His own Body and His
      own Blood, that we might receive His substance into ourselves and be
      united not only spiritually but also physically with Him, that we might
      have His life inextricably knit together with our own. Our Lord receives
      from us all that we give Him, no matter how poor or small that gift
      might be, and in return He offers us Himself, the Bread of Life, that we
      might live with Him in eternity. Glory be to God for His great love and
      compassion. He provides for us all that we need that we might have life
      and have it more abundantly, both in this world and in the world to come.

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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