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A Reading from the Gospel According to St. John

David Martin | The Daily Knight

The following reading from St. John is interspersed with editorial notes to help offset the widely held doubt of our time concerning Christ’s divinity and his doctrine of the Eucharist.


Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, referred to also in Scripture as “the Word.” (1 John 5:7). St. John opens his Gospel by saying:


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.” (John 1: 1-3) 


From this we see that Christ is the Creator of all things, equal to the Father, who has existed with the Father from all eternity. This same God assumed human flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary without the aid of man.


“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)


Christ then was God walking the earth in his own human body. His divine glory was evidenced not only by his impeccability and the fact that there wasn’t a person on earth who could correct or refute anything he said, but was evidenced by his many miracles. He worked these miracles to prove he was God so that man would be all the more encouraged to believe and act on his words.


The Miracle of the Loaves


In the sixth chapter of St. John, Christ worked the miracle of the loaves and fishes to strengthen and prepare the people concerning his doctrine of the Holy Eucharist that he was about to expound on.


The Gospel relates the event.


“When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?


“And this he said to try him; for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him: Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him:  There is a boy here that has five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are these among so many? Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand.


“And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down. In like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would. And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten.” (John 6: 5-13) 


While the people present were astounded by what they called “a miracle,” they nonetheless did not demonstrate appreciation for the miracle nor for he that worked it. Christ’s objective was to present himself to the people as their God and Divine King, which didn’t suit their worldly palate, therefore they sought to make him king on their own worldly terms, which Jesus rejected.


“Jesus therefore, when he knew that they would come to take him by force, and make him king, fled again into the mountain himself alone.” (John 6:15)


The next day, the multitudes came looking for Jesus on the other side of the sea, “nigh unto the place where they had eaten the bread” (6: 23), only to discover that he and his disciples were not there.


“When therefore the multitude saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they took shipping, and came to Capharnaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him: Rabbi, when camest thou hither?


“Jesus answered them, and said: Amen, amen I say to you, you seek me, not because you have seen miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” (6: 24-26)


Jesus here expresses his disappointment over their ingratitude and their lack of relish for the great miracle he had just worked for them. He almost compares them to cats and dogs that follow you around just to get their belly filled. He laments that they came after him for the wrong reason making it clear that appreciation for his miracles and divinity is what Heaven wants to see.


The Doctrine of the Eucharist


Jesus went on to tell them:


“Labour not for the meat which perishes, but for that which endures unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you. For him hath God, the Father, sealed. They said therefore unto him: What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered, and said to them: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent.” (6: 27-29)


The Jews then asked Jesus:


“What sign therefore dost thou shew, that we may see, and may believe thee? What dost thou work?” (6: 30)

 

Jesus had just worked one of the greatest miracles of history and then they ask, ‘what sign do you show that we may believe in thee!’


The Jews continued:


“Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you; Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world. They said therefore unto him: Lord, give us always this bread. And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.” (6: 31-35)


Christ here refers to himself as the “bread of life” that “comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” Note that only God himself can give life to the world. A doctrine or verse of scripture cannot give life.


“The Jews therefore murmured at him, because he had said: I am the living bread which came down from heaven” (6: 41)


Against their heckling and doubting, Christ doubled down on his point, saying:


“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. (6: 51,52)


Hence the living bread from heaven is Christ’s own flesh and blood. It is not a doctrine or a symbol but is his actual body and blood. As he says:


“For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live forever.” (6: 56-59)


By referring to his flesh as “meat indeed” and to his blood as “drink indeed,” Christ makes it indisputably clear that he means this literally, not symbolically. We literally eat and drink his flesh and blood in Holy Communion.


Naturally, Christ’s humanity that we consume (his flesh, blood, and human soul) is hypostatically united with his divinity and is in its ascended state, which is what Christ meant when he said, “The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life.” (6: 54) Obviously, Christ never intended his flesh to be divided, mangled, and consumed in a vulgar way as the Jews supposed. He was simply saying that we must receive his Body and Blood in Holy Communion. “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.” (6: 54,55)


The Jews were scandalized by Christ’s doctrine on the Eucharist, as we read:


“Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you?” (John 6: 61,62)


“After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.” (John 6: 67-70)


Hence those who are of God believe Christ’s teaching on the Eucharist while those who are not of God walk away, the same who show contempt for his miracles. The Gospel makes it clear that those who are of the Father believe in the Messiah. The Jews were not of God and therefore did not believe in the Messiah. As Jesus tells them:


“He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God.” (John 8: 46,47)


Faith Pleases God


Throughout the Gospel we see that trust and faith in Christ’s divinity pleases God immensely. For instance, we read in St. Matthew’s Gospel that there came to Jesus a centurion, beseeching him, and saying:


“Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goes, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he does it. And Jesus hearing this, marveled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel.” (Mt. 8: 6-10)


The centurion was saying that in the same way he could send his servants to do this and that, he knew that Jesus could send his angels to execute the cure without he himself being there, whereupon Jesus marveled and complimented his “great faith.”


Jesus Weeps over the Jews


On the flip side, we see how Jesus groaned over the Jews’ lack of faith in him. In the 11th chapter of St. John we see that when Jesus arrived at Lazarus’ grave and saw the people expressing sorrow that Jesus hadn’t been there in time to cure him, he was much troubled in spirit.


“When Mary [Martha’s sister] therefore was come where Jesus was, seeing him, she fell down at his feet, and saith to him: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. Jesus, therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews that were come with her, weeping, groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself, And said: Where have you laid him? They say to him: Lord, come and see. And Jesus wept.” (John 11: 32-35)


Let’s be clear, Jesus wasn’t weeping over Lazarus but was weeping over the incredulous people there. There was no reason for Jesus to weep for Lazarus since he was a close friend of God who was destined for eternal bliss, not to mention that Jesus was about to raise him from the dead. Jesus was weeping over the Jews’ lack of faith in him.


When Jesus asked, “Where have you laid him? (which he did to try them), they should have answered, “Lord you know all things, you know where he is at,” but instead they said, “Lord, come and see,” as if they had to instruct Jesus on where Lazarus was. Therefore Jesus wept.


The most painful part was that this particular group of people were among Jesus’ closest friends and followers. How could he criticize them especially when they were in sorrow over Lazarus? Therefore he simply “groaned in the spirit.”


What especially pierces Our Lord’s Heart is when his own representatives in the priesthood deny his divinity and miracles.


Francis Denies Miracle of the Loaves


Perhaps the most absurd of these denials was Pope Francis’ denial of the miracle of the loaves at the Church of Santa Maria Consolatrice, in the Roman quarter of Casal Bertone on Sunday, June 23, 2019. He told the people:


“The account of the multiplication of the loaves does not mention the multiplication itself.  On the contrary, the words that stand out are: “break”, “give” and “distribute” (cf. Lk 9:16). In effect, the emphasis is not on the multiplication but the act of sharing.  This is important.  Jesus does not perform a magic trick; he does not change five loaves into five thousand and then announce: “There! Distribute them!” No.”


Who ever told Francis that this event was about sharing? The people did not pass the bread from one to another but sat in rows of fifty as the Apostles came through and handed them each a loaf. This was a figure of how priests alone are authorized to bring the Eucharist to the people. It’s not something that is ‘shared.’


Two things to consider.


(1) The people all had their fill. Before the miracle the Apostles had only five loaves, which was approximately 1 basket full, whereas they ended up with 12 full baskets of bread after everyone had eaten (approx. 60 loaves) thus proving that the loaves miraculously multiplied.


(2) The popes and bishops of the past 2000 years have held the multiplication of the loaves to be a scriptural and historical fact. The event was called “a miracle” by Christ and by the people who witnessed it (Jn 6:24-26).


Sorry Francis. Jesus did “change five loaves into five thousand” and did announce, “Distribute.”  


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