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Notes on Trinity 7 (feeding of the 4000)

by ToddPeperkorn ~ July 2nd, 2008

Every miracle Our Lord performed when clothed in our frail nature, He did for us. Each He did not casually but purposefully. So Christ is the Word of God Who speaks to men not in words only, but also in deeds. The feeding of the multitudes in today’s Gospel is one of those events. It fills with joy the soul of the one who takes it to heart. For you learn that Our Lord had compassion on the multitude, lest they faint of hunger or through weariness of the long way to their homes. This makes known to us that He possessed the tenderness and affection toward our human weakness. Yet you also hear that Our Lord miraculously fed four thousand men from seven loaves and a few fishes. From this we learn to believe in divine power. (St. Maximus)

In this Gospel lesson our dear Lord Christ offers us the twofold promise: that he will provide us both food for the soul (through the Word) as well as food for the body (in the form of daily bread). In effect he is saying, “Don’t worry about dying of hunger; rather make it your primary concern to hear my Word. When you’ve done this, trust your Father in heaven to provide for your belly. He is determined not to let you die of hunger.” That is the guideline Christ is here laying down for us. So this is the primary lesson we should learn: Make God’s Word your chief concern, and having done that, be assured that the Lord Christ will also provide for your material needs. (Blessed Martin Luther)

There are two kinds of blessings—spiritual and bodily. Today’s Gospel deals with bodily blessings. It teaches us that we should have the faith of a child. For we are taught to look to God as the source of all good, and to learn to trust Him. From our experience of God’s blessings in the temporal sphere we should also learn to trust Him in regard to spiritual blessings. This Gospel reminds us of the fact that Christ does look after our bodily needs. From this we may well infer that He also wants to nourish our soul with spiritual blessings. If I am not prepared to entrust the sustenance of my body to Him, I will be much less disposed to entrust the eternal welfare of my soul to Him. (Blessed Martin Luther)

After the Apostles were sent out to preach the Kingdom of God, the food of Heavenly Grace is bestowed. But observe on whom it is bestowed—not on the idle, but on those seeking Christ in the desert. For those who are not haughty are themselves received by Christ, and the Word of God speaks with them not about worldly things, but about the Kingdom of Heaven. And if any bear the wounds of bodily suffering, He freely gives them His own healing. It was fitting that those whom He had healed from the pain of wounds He freed from hunger with spiritual nourishment. Thus, none receives the food of Christ unless he was first healed, and those who are called to the feast are first healed by the calling. (St. Ambrose)

In today’s Gospel, the Lord took the loaves of seven loaves of bread which the disciples gave Him. After blessing them, He gave them back to His disciples so that they would set them before the people. By this action, Our Lord signaled that He would give us, His people, the gift of the Holy Eucharist through the ministry of the Apostles and their successors. He is the Bread of Life, and He wishes Himself distributed, in His Body and Blood, to His Church throughout the world by the apostolic ministry. At the same time, Our Lord Jesus is made known to us through the Holy Eucharist. He shows this when He breaks the loaves before giving them out. For surely you have heard that Our Lord Jesus is made known to us in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24.35). By the miracle in today’s Gospel, we are shown mystically that we cannot pass in safely along the road of this present life unless the grace of the Redeemer nourishes us by the food of His Word. This food is given both to those who are far off, and to those who are close at hand. Those who are far off are those who have strayed by doing what is evil, but then return to God in true repentance. For these, the food of holy instruction is offered, that they may regain in God the strength they lost in doing evil. But those who have remained close to God are also fed with the 50 food of the Lord’s Word, so that they might not stray but may remain firm in the faith until they die. (Paraphrased from St Bede)

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