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Homily for 7/18/10 - P8 - spiritual nourishment

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matthew 14:14-22 In this miracle of the feeding of the 5000 our Lord gives us instruction about many things. This is one of the most important miracles of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 18, 2010
      Matthew 14:14-22

      In this miracle of the feeding of the 5000 our Lord gives us instruction
      about many things. This is one of the most important miracles of the
      Gospel indicated by the fact that it is the only such miracle recorded
      by all 4 evangelists. By providing food for those who came to hear Him
      preach, Jesus gave an object lesson of what He had said verbally in the
      Sermon on the Mount that we need not concern ourselves with what we
      shall eat or what we shall drink but rather “seek ye first the Kingdom
      of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto
      you”. Jesus showed His disciples a clear example of His provision for
      all our needs, both spiritual and physical.

      Beyond this obvious lesson, we also see in this miracle how it is that
      God provides for us our spiritual nourishment. As we have seen in the
      past weeks, various physical conditions have served as examples of
      spiritual conditions. Here again, the physical condition of the hunger
      of the people shows us our own hunger for Jesus Christ and our desire to
      be filled with Him (blessed are those who hunger and thirst after
      righteousness for they shall be filled). The people gathered together to
      hear Jesus preach – 5000 men as well as women and children – had not
      eaten the whole day and the evening was approaching. They were in the
      wilderness and so the disciples suggested that Jesus dismiss the crowd
      and send them home or to the villages so that they might find food. But
      Jesus said to the Apostles that they instead should feed the multitude.
      This is the first lesson in this miracle. Jesus did not send the people
      away to find food elsewhere, to the villages, or to forage for
      themselves in the desert, but gave them into the care of the Apostles.
      When we come to Christ, He does not send us away here and there for
      spiritual nourishment, nor does He feed each of us independently but
      rather gives us all into the care of the Holy Apostles, instructing them
      to feed us. Where else then should we receive spiritual food except in
      the Church at the hands of the Apostles and those whom they have
      appointed to carry on their pastoral work (that is the bishops who are
      appointed as archpastors each to care for the local flock of Christ)?
      Jesus Christ does not send us off alone to feed ourselves only from the
      scripture and the ideas of our own mind and feelings of closeness to
      Him. Nor does He expect us to go and find spiritual nourishment in any
      other religion from those who teach strange things. Rather He
      specifically puts us into the care of the Apostles, appointing the
      Church as the place where we are all to dine upon His Word together.

      Receiving this instruction the Apostles object that they cannot feed so
      great a multitude and in fact were only able to find five small loaves
      of bread and two fishes. They had very little to give to this multitude,
      certainly not enough food to feed all. But this too is part of the
      lesson of Christ for taking what little they had, he blessed it and
      broke it into twelve portions, giving a little to each of the disciples
      and sent them out. The food then miraculously was multiplied so that
      everyone received all that he needed. The Apostles do not feed us their
      food, but rather that which they receive from Christ. All that they had
      they gave to Christ insufficient though it was and He then makes it
      sufficient and returns it to the Apostles to give to all. Two things
      stand out here. First is that the food we receive comes from Jesus
      Christ, and even what we think we have, we give first to Him rather than
      distributing it on our own. The only source of teaching, of wisdom, of
      true knowledge, of spiritual nourishment is from Jesus Christ and He
      gives this food to us through the hands and voices and words of the Holy
      Apostles, and by them through the bishops and then the priests and deacons.

      The second thing here is the process by which we give to Christ
      everything of our own: our own works, our own ideas, our own reasoning,
      our own opinions. We recognize that what we have is insufficient for our
      own salvation; it is incomplete, or has a fundamental flaw, or is mixed
      with that which is harmful. We take what we think we have and give it to
      Christ, that is we submit it all to the Church which is the repository
      of the riches of the grace of God and the Body of Christ. He then
      blesses what we give to Him and in doing so purifies it, completes and
      perfects it and then He returns it to us. Is this not for us a
      foretelling of the Holy Mysteries. We bring to Christ the works of our
      hands and minds and hearts, bread and wine. No matter how good that
      bread and wine might be, no matter how much effort and skill and love we
      put into making it, it is still insufficient for our salvation. And so
      we give to Jesus Christ our imperfect gifts (note that in preparing the
      Holy Gifts we use 5 loaves of bread, just as there were at this miracle)
      and He receives them from us poor as they are and He takes them, blesses
      them, hallows them, makes up that which is lacking and transforms them
      into His own Most Holy Body and Most Precious Blood. Then He gives to us
      this perfect Food for the salvation of our souls. This is nothing that
      we could do for ourselves, nor do we receive them from any other hands
      than those of the Holy Apostles into whose care we are given.

      After all had eaten their fill, the remnants were gathered and there
      were twelve baskets full of this miraculous food remaining. This
      instructs us that this spiritual food is given now to each the Apostles
      and the are in turn sent into all the world to feed all mankind from
      this supersubstantial food given to the world by the hand of the God/man
      Jesus Christ through the Holy Apostles. In this we recall that as we
      confess in the Symbol of Faith (the Nicene Creed) the Church is One and
      derives her substance from one source that is the Lord Jesus Christ. The
      Church is Holy for that substance is blessed and hallowed by God
      Himself. The Church is Catholic for from the Church the spiritual
      nourishment of the Kingdom of Heaven is given to the whole world, to all
      men in all places and in all times. The is Apostolic for this wondrous
      spiritual food is given to us by the hands of the Apostles, that is it
      comes to us only through the Church and from no other place.

      The Lord said, “blessed as those who hunger and thirst after
      righteousness for they shall be filled” In this miraculous feeding of
      5000 men plus women and children shows us how indeed this promise is
      accomplished. When we hunger after spiritual nourishment, we are fed by
      our Lord Jesus Christ. He commits us into the care of the Holy Apostles
      and then instructs them to feed us. That is He places us into the One
      Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the ark of salvation and only here
      do we receive the spiritual food that satisfies our hunger. The Apostles
      and those whom they appoint (that is the bishops who are given the task
      to “rightly divide the Word of Truth”) feed us not from their own
      substance or their own resources, but they feed us from the miraculous
      food given to us all by Christ. That spiritual food is the Truth which
      is given to us by the self revelation of God incarnate and contained in
      the Scripture and Tradition of the Church and in the teaching and lives
      of the Apostles, the holy fathers and mothers, the martyrs and all the
      saints. This spiritual food comes not from man but from God, offered to
      us by Jesus Christ through the hands of the Apostles.

      Partake now all you who are hungry and thirsty of this great banquet set
      before us here in the Church. Partake of the life of the Church,
      incorporating into your lives the traditions and practice of the Church,
      ordering your lives according to the law of God. Read the Gospel and all
      the Scripture; fill you mind and heart with the words of the Holy
      Fathers and other spiritual writers among the saints. See the Truth
      shining from the icons, hear the Word of God proclaimed in the preaching
      and teaching of Gospel and in the words and melodies of the hymns. Touch
      the relics of the saints and icons with veneration and honor which
      through them we offer to Christ our God. Receive the sacraments,
      especially the Holy Communion, which bestow upon us the grace of God by
      which we are transformed into His image and likeness. We who are hungry
      are now offered a great banquet and invited to eat our fill so do not be
      shy but partake of all that our Lord offers to you, immerse yourself and
      fill you life with all the riches offered through the hands of the
      Apostles in the Church established by Christ as the ark of our
      salvation. Come all you that hunger and thirst for righteousness for you
      shall be filled.

      --
      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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