RCL Year B Proper 12 Alternate Readings
2 Kings 4:42-44, Psalm 145:10-19, Ephesians 3:14-21, Saint John 6:1-21
Just as summer is settling in to its routines and its particular rhythm, we Christians are breaking those routines and changing the rhythm to something entirely different. This change is as if we were in the middle of a long journey in a car when from the back seat we hear, “Are we there yet?” And what follows is a full but timeless explanation about the journey of our lives. What we get is not an estimated time of arrival; it is an exploration of what it means to live in the presence of Jesus and who Jesus is.
For about two months, we’ve been working our way through Saint Mark’s Gospel, following Jesus’ ministry as he heals and teaches, observing that ministry from the outside, so to speak. And today we change that routine and begin five weeks with a different rhythm. We begin five weeks of Gospels from the sixth chapter of Saint John where we are observers, yes, but not of Jesus’ ministry only. We are observers of who he is, what he gives us to live, and what journeying with him means.
Today, we have the Feeding of the Five Thousand, the only miracle to be found in all four Gospels. It occurs twice in Mark and twice in Matthew. The principal reason for the repetition may be that the miracle looks forward to the Eucharist and to the banquet that is a figure for eternal life. But the miracle looks back, too, to the feeding of Israel in the wilderness and Elisha’s feeding of a hundred with small provisions that is today’s First Lesson.
Saint John’s version of the miracle emphasizes Jesus’ absolute control of the situation. (We do well to remember Jesus’ absolute control of every situation.) He asks Philip where they can buy enough bread to feed the crowd, and Philip’s answer as much as says that nowhere can sufficient bread be found. But Andrew sees a possibility in the boy’s five barley loaves and two fish. Jesus acts upon that possibility. In the hands of the True and Living God, meager resources are more than enough. In the hands of the True and Living God, there is always enough; never is there not enough.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” When we ask this, we are asking for more than just the food we need to eat. We are asking for everything we need to live, to live abundantly, and to live eternally. And God provides. God’s nature is to provide. Whatever the situation, whatever the circumstance, God provides sufficient resources to live, because “our daily bread” is our relationship with him. And God never brings that relationship to an end. God is there for us, for ever and a day.