Reflection for January 7th, 2020 on 1 JN 4:7-10, MK 6:34-44
Today we hear Mark’s telling of the classic Loaves and Fishes miracle, one of the handful of miracles that appears in every one of the four gospels. There’s a reason this is a story that completes a cycle. Jesus’ transformation of five loaves of bread and two fish into a feast for thousands is such a clear and beautiful demonstration of the abundance of God’s loving power – that God’s grace is more immense and sustaining than we can possibly imagine. But I think too often we look past one of the key lessons of this story, that’s Jesus miracle isn’t just with bread and fish but with us. We are not just seeing Jesus miraculous multiplying, but a part of it – Christ uses us our own offerings to express God’s eternal love.
When Jesus doesn’t yield to their practical concerns, his disciples bring forward those gifts, the food that allow God to miraculously feed and sustain others. God works through them, just as much as those rolls and fishy’s, to manifest a divine, life-giving love. This is what St. John’s beautiful first reading’s whole thesis is:
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.”
The disciples aren’t just spectators here, they are extensions and collaborators in God’s incarnational mission, a mission that being a part of is what the Good News is all about – that whoever “loves is begotten by God and knows God” that God’s love is the pathway to our divinization and true communion.
St. Athanasius told us that “the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” How often do we sit with how awe-inspiring this Christian message is? We’re shown this constantly from the gospel writers and our early Christian teachers. When John writes that God is love (1 John 4:16) and Paul teaches us that God is eternal (1 Corinthians 13:13) how can that love planted in our hearts (Romans 5:5, 8:9) not lead us to what Peter tells us is true communion with the eternal divine (2 Peter 1:4). That even in the face of hunger that is immense, that God’s implanted love within us still feeds us, still sustains us, and still gives us victory in the face of death. That victory is resurrection. That victory is abundant and plentiful, a meal that can feed all and still have thousands of leftovers.
So today let’s be full. Fill up on the loaves and fishes that is the hope and awe of our faith. Offer up in prayer what holds you back from taking part in the love that’s already within you. And finally do your part to manifest God’s transformative love to this world and trust that you, your own gifts, are being transformed as part of God’s work.