Friday of the Second Week of Easter
(Acts 5:34-42; John 6:1-5)
The math teacher at an all-male Catholic high school early in the year deterred discipline problems. When he saw the boy with the biggest muscles acting out of line, he grabbed the boy’s tie and said something like, “Never do that again, mister, do you hear me?” That showed the class that he was tough. When he saw one of the smaller students misbehaving, the teacher sent him outside where he might be seen by the school’s disciplinarian. That proved that he was mean. The actions had strong sign value. All the boys in the class reckoned that this math teacher was not to be fooled with. Jesus’ feeding the multitude in today’s gospel is also done as a sign.
John’s mentioning that proximity to Passover does not only indicate the time of year. More importantly, it indicates that Jesus’ feeding the crowd is like God’s feeding the Israelites in the desert with manna and quail. Jesus is giving the people a sign that he is worthy of their trust. They are to believe in him as they believe in God who sent him. Unfortunately, the people pick up the wrong message. Rather than heeding his words, they want to make him their king so that he might continue feeding them for nothing.
The bread and wine in the Eucharist are likewise signs of something greater present. They indicate that that we are being nourished with food that provides eternal life. In this case they have become what they signify – the body and blood of Christ that enable us to love like him.