Gospel Reflection for July 25, 2021 – 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

Sunday Readings: 2 Kings 4.42-44; Ephesians 4.1-6; John 6.1-15
 
“The people sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus 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. When they were satisfied, Jesus told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up. From the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.” – Mark 6.10-13
 
Jesus feeds a huge crowd on a boy’s five loaves and two fish. John’s gospel refers to Jesus’ healing and feeding actions not as miracles but as signs. A sign involves a concrete and physical action that points beyond what we see or experience.

A stop sign points to an intersection with busy cross traffic people may not see. A billboard with someone in cap and gown points to the unseen benefits of a college degree. In John’s gospel five loaves that feed thousands become a sign of who Jesus is and who we are as his disciples — the Body of Christ.

Starting this Sunday, the Church breaks off from reading Mark’s gospel for five Sundays and reads instead from John 6 with its theological reflection on Jesus as the bread of life. The mathematics alone — 5 loaves, 2 fish, 5,000 people, 12 baskets of leftovers — signals this feeding points to more than we see and draws us into deeper reflection.

The twelve baskets of leftovers point to universality. Twelve is the number of the tribes of Israel, so enough for all. Twelve is a number symbolizing abundance. The food Jesus gives increases in being given. The crowd has more food left over than there was to start. It works like love.
 
What hungers does sharing Sunday Eucharist satisfy for you?