Her Doctrine and Morals

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

12 July 2020


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Dear Friend,

In today's Gospel, we read of the second multiplication of loaves and fishes. St. Maximus (Bishop of Turin 380-465) mystically interprets these two multiplications to the two callings, first of the Jews and second of the Gentiles.

In the first, the Apostles suggest that Jesus send the people away so that they may find food. On the second occasion, Jesus draws the attention of the Apostles to the fact that the people do not have anything to eat. The second multiplication tells us that the people came from a distance. The Gentiles were far from the Law and the Prophets and, therefore, far from God. All who live in sin are far from Jesus. The Jews were not so distant because they were given the Law and the Prophets.

In the first multiplication, there were five loaves and two fishes, and these represent the five books of Moses and then the Old and New Testament. In the second multiplication, there were seven loaves and a few fishes representing the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, godliness, and fear of the Lord.) The few fishes in the second multiplication represent the gifts of grace that St. Paul speaks of: "To one, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, to another prophecy, to another diverse kinds of tongues, to another interpretation of speeches. But all these things one and the same Spirit worketh" (I Cor. 12:8).

In the first, they sat on the grass. The Jews rested upon the dead works of the flesh — for "all flesh is grass," as the prophet says (Is. 40). The Gentiles, represented in the second multiplication, sat upon the ground, that is, they tread down the things of earth.

In the first, five thousand were fed. These foretell of the number of Jewish converts St. Peter would call after Pentecost. "The number who believed was made five thousand." In the second, there were four thousand; which means that all peoples, from the four points of the heavens, are filled with the sevenfold grace of the Spirit unto Life eternal.

St. Maximus ends by saying: "And so, Beloved, we who believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ, not through the Law but by faith, who are redeemed, not by its works but by grace itself; who are filled, not from the five loaves, that is, from the Five Books of Moses, but by the sevenfold grace of the Holy Ghost as the blessed Isaias had prophesied saying: ‘The Spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the Spirit of knowledge, and of piety; And he shall be filled with the Spirit of the fear of the Lord' (Is 11), let us continue in this grace of the Sevenfold Spirit, in which we were called, being filled with ‘the gift of the Holy Ghost' (Acts 2:38) through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns in the Unity of the Holy Ghost God for ever and ever."

All have been called by Jesus, and all have been fed by the mercies of God. Both the Jews and the Gentiles should feel honored by the position that God has created them in. The Jews received the Laws and Prophets and were near to Jesus in His Humanity. After inviting the Israelites, Jesus welcomed the Gentiles, whose faith was not found in all of Israel. Lest the Jews should boast of their works, we see that despite the years of preparation for Jesus, they failed to recognize Him when He revealed Himself. For the humbling of the Gentiles, they are reminded that they were far from Jesus — they had come from a distance.

Each of us has much to glory in with the many graces we receive from God, but we also have many things that should cause us to humbly hang our heads in shame. Our ancestry is not all that important. Jesus feeds all of mankind. We are all created by the One and Same God, and His grace is sufficient to care for all of us. In the Kingdom of Heaven, there is no time, it is not important who entered first or who entered last.

What is important is that we receive Jesus as He offers Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist. Unless we receive Him in Holy Communion, we cannot have life within us. The same Jesus is present upon all the altars of the True Church throughout the world, as well as throughout time. We should eagerly approach Him as the people in today's Gospel did. They did not concern themselves with worldly details, like what are they going to eat. Their concern was to receive the Word of God. Seeking first the Kingdom of Heaven, God then provided for the needs of their bodies. This is what we must do also.

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