Lectionary 334: Sat. Feb.11, 2012:
Scripture: I Kings 12:26-32; 13:33-34. Psalm 106: 6-7.19-20.21-22. Mark 8:1-10.
Four of the six miraculous feeding narratives in the New Testament are found in Mark and Matthew. Matthew is handing on what he has learned from Mark’s Gospel and enhancing it with his own pastoral concerns and his own traditions collected from his friends and from those who knew Jesus. In looking at these accounts we realize we are privileged to know the outcome in all six of these multiplication stories. Through carefully meditating on them individually we are led immediately into the Eucharist. Jesus takes the loaves, blesses them or give thanks to God, and then distributes them to all who are gathered to listen to him and to experience this magnanimous action of the Lord.
Since there is such multiple attestation of a multiplication we can learn much about Jesus than if there were just one account that is exactly the same. Some scholars assert that in Mark the first multiplication is more for the Jewish listeners while the text for today is for the Gentiles or the rest of the world. This does not seem to be the intention of Mark and Matthew. Mark certainly is not repeating what was said in the first narrative. Above all, we must reflect on the intention of Mark in handing down two accounts and to see the similarities in both and also their differences. His intention is to hand down both and a later chapter refers to both as Jesus questions his disciples in their misunderstanding of many things he did and told them. It is apparent that Mark intended to give us two multiplication narrative and we by keeping in mind the entire Gospel can ponder over why his pastoral theology led him to do this. We remember always that he was the first one to write a Gospel that was inspired by the Spirit. We know that the other evangelists borrowed from him and sometimes abbreviated what they thought was duplicated in Mark. But isn’t it a great gift to have six accounts of the feeding of the multitude. They all relate to the Eucharist in our day and help us to appreciate the super abundance of God’s gifts to us—here the very Bread of Life, Jesus himself.
With a faith interpretation we are led to the Eucharist in each of the six accounts. All are fed by God each time they approach the sacrament of the Eucharist where we share in the precious blood and sanctifying body of the Lord. While reading these accounts we can hear the living voice of Jesus saying, “I am the bread of life.” Amen.