Scripture: Lectionary #271. 4/20/12. Acts 5:34-42. Psalm 27:1.4.13-14. John 6:1-15
Whenever we read Luke either in his Gospel or in the Acts of the Apostles the city of Jerusalem is key both as a historical location and also as a theological theme within Luke. Keep in mind that Rome will be the endpoint of this Jerusalem based theology which will be extended to the whole of the Roman empire and wind up in its capital city. This is part of Luke’s concern for universal salvation and evangelization. We are presently at the beginning of the journey so Jerusalem is the key location of what is happening. The Temple is central to this location theology of Luke, and, it is, of course in Jerusalem.
Jesus had given his stirring prophetic words to those who gathered in the Temple area or near it. The apostles now take his place and continue to do their witnessing and proclaiming of the holiness and power of the Name of Jesus. The authorities, on the other hand, are refusing to allow this and have imprisoned Jesus’ followers. It happens that one member of the Sanhedrin does not agree with imprisoning them or stopping them. He is wise and uses two other events that led to nothing (he is referring to the uprising of Theudas and then a messianic pretender in Galilee named Judas who had four hundred or so followers. The wise person in the Sanhedrin has the following noteworthy insights about the apostles:”My advice is that you have nothing to do with these men. Let them alone. If their purpose or activity is human in its origins it will destroy itself. If, on the other hand, it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them without fighting God himself.”
In turning to our beautiful Psalm we are reminded that these are especially prayed in Jerusalem and the Temple during the time of Jesus. The apostles were faithful to praying them daily in the Temple during these days. We, too, have the opportunity of entering into their spirit as we pray the antiphon for today: “One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 27:4). The whole psalm is worth our time to meditate upon or use for our personal lectio divina (sacred reading and reflection).
John’s Gospel is considered by many scholars to be a sacramental one. It emphasizes Baptism and the Eucharist. Today we have the magnificent scene of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish. It is one of the seven signs given to us in John’s Book of Signs (his first twelve chapters). John does not call these marvels of Jesus miracles; he calls then signs that are meant to go beyond what we see and experience and to be lead to belief in the spiritual significance of the signs that are recorded. (see John 21 at the very end). By listening carefully to the actions narrated here in chapter 6:1-15, we learn that Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks (eucharistein in the Greek of the N.T.) and distributed them. This certainly is more than a historical miracle. It recalls the actions of Jesus at the Last Supper when in the other three Gospels we learn that this is the Body of Jesus and the Blood of Jesus recalled not only in memory but given by Jesus as the sacrament of His Real Presence in the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine. The Eucharist is a key to the Resurrection just as John’s sign here is a key to his remembrance of the sacrament of the Eucharist. Amen. Alleulia.