THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
21 July 2019
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Today we read of the second multiplication of loaves. In the first, there were five loaves multiplied to feed five thousand men and twelve baskets full remained. In this second multiplication, there were seven loaves multiplied to feed four thousand men and seven baskets full remained. At the beginning of Jesus' public life, it was His Mother Mary that brought attention to the lack of wine at the wedding feast. In both these instances, it was Jesus Who had to bring to the attention of the apostles the lack of food. We see clearly Jesus is teaching the apostles compassion for the physical needs of the people.
God is the Creator of both body and soul and He cares for both. There is no doubt that our souls are greater than our bodies and we should always be ready to sacrifice the body for the soul. However, it is through our bodies that we develop and advance in the spiritual life. Without bodies, we would be unable to make reparations or do penance for our sins. We should be cautious so that we give to our bodies what they need, but not indulge them to the point that it does harm to our souls. There is a delicate balance that we must always re-adjust and align not too much for the flesh nor too little. It is sinful to overindulge and it is sinful to neglect, abuse or harm our physical lives.
Jesus is always eager to care for our physical necessities, but His principal concern is for our immortal souls. Shortly after this second multiplication of the loaves, Jesus leaves the multitude. He withdrew by ship. St. John Chrysostom says: "For no other miracle had so roused the people to follow Him as the miracle of the loaves; and not alone to follow Him, but they also wished to make Him King. And to avoid all suspicion of desiring to be made King, immediately after the miracle, He quickly departs; and not on foot, lest they follow Him, but by boat. And the Gospel goes on to tell us that, when His disciples were come over the water, they had forgotten to take bread. Who said to them; Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Why did He not say openly: 'Beware of their teaching?' He wishes, of course, to bring back to their mind the miracle that had taken place; for He knew they had already forgotten it. But it did not seem opportune to censure them openly then; though, as they gave Him occasion to do so, He made the reproof tolerable. And why did He not reprove them when they said, Whence should we have so many loaves in the wilderness? For then seemed a good time to correct them. He did not do so that He might not seem to be as it were rushing at the miracle. And besides, He did not wish to correct them before the people or make a display of His own authority. Now correction was more called for: that they should be forgetful after two such miracles. And so, after another miracle, He rebukes them; for He laid before them the thoughts they were thinking in their hearts. And what were they thinking? They were thinking: He says this because we have taken no bread. For they were still concerned about Judaic purifications, and about observances with regard to food. And so because of this, He upbraids them very sharply, saying to them: Why do ye think within yourselves, O ye of little faith, for that you have no bread. Do you not yet understand; neither do you remember? Your heart is still blind; having eyes you see not; having ears you hear not. Do you not remember the five loaves among five thousand men, and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves among four thousand men, and how many baskets you took up? You see here displeasure stretched to the utmost. In no other place is He seen to rebuke them in this manner. Why did He act so? That once again He might drive out of their minds their notions regarding foods So on the previous occasion, He said only: are you yet without understanding? Do you not understand? But here, rebuking them fiercely, He says: O ye of little faith. For not everywhere is mildness to be used. … And to show us how efficacious His rebuke was, how it sharpened their torpid minds, hear what the Evangelist says. For when Jesus had finished speaking, and after rebuking them had added: Why do you not understand that it was not concerning bread I said to you: Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Evangelist notes: Then they understood that He said not that they should beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees; although the Lord had not so interpreted these words. But see the good His rebuke did. It led them away from the Jewish observances, and from being heedless, as they were before, they became attentive to what He said to them. And He took them out of their littleness of faith so that they were not afraid, nor apprehensive, when they had but a few loaves, nor concerned about hunger, but indifferent to all things."
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