Today we remember St. Martin, pope and martyr. He firmly opposed the monothelite heresy, which held that Christ had only the divine will and not a human will as well. So we see here again, someone standing up to human authority, in order to defend the rules of God. He was the last pope to be venerated as a martyr.
Pondering now on the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, one of the most well-known and respected Pharisees in the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel, ordered the Apostles to step outside while he talked to the Sanhedrin and told them very clearly “do not persecute these Christians.” If whatever message they have is not from God, it will self-destruct in time, like several other movements have. “You may even find yourselves fighting against God.”
In our own world today, we may encounter false prophets and we must be ready to discern the validity of their messages as well as, of their origins, before we get enticed by any false teachings.
Although Gamaliel prevented them from being run out of town, the Apostles were still flogged before they were dismissed. They were rejoicing they had been found worthy to suffer for the sake of His Name! They were invigorated, rather than silenced and they continued teaching both in the temple and in their homes with more enthusiasm and conviction.
How can you find joy, be glad and have the honor of suffering humiliation for the sake of His Name?
This is still a very relevant question today, especially with all the secularism around us. It might be worth asking ourselves that question, before the situation presents itself. Pray and discern what our reaction will be. Suffer with joy or abandon Him afraid of the pain and humiliation that may be inflicted on us. How far are we willing to suffer for His Name sake?
Before going into the Gospel reading, allow me to quote some lines from the Resp. Psalm (Ps 27) “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid.” And then the words from Matthew, before the Alleluia: ”One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
There is so much to “unpack” in the words of this Gospel, considering this is the month of the Holy Eucharist and in light of the words we have just cited.
Jesus needed to get away from the multitudes and get some rest. He used those times also, to lead His Disciples into a deeper understanding of Himself. Besides, He needed some time for prayer. Imagine that! If Jesus needs to carve out some time out of his day for prayer, shouldn’t we as well???
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee and found a hill where He sat with His disciples. Soon after, His peace was interrupted (as it often was,) when a big crown began to appear in droves. They had seen and/or heard of the many miracles performed by Jesus and wanted to witness them, themselves.
When Jesus saw this large crowd, around 5,000, His heart was filled with sympathy, they were probably tired and hungry…He turns to Phillip and asked “where can we buy enough food for them to eat? He was testing Phillip. Jesus knew what He was going to do. Indeed Phillip saw this as an insurmountable problem. They did not have that kind of money and even if they did, where would they get the food? Phillip still did not trust his Master. His response was “despair.” Does it sound familiar???
Then Andrew had located a boy who had 5 barley loaves and 2 small fishes, no bigger than sardines. At least he said “I will see what I can do,” he recognized there was a possibility.
Jesus asked to have the crowd rest and recline on the hill. He took the bread and the fish, gave thanks, blessed them and started distributing them to the crowd. Do these words sound familiar? After everyone had had their fill, they still collected 12 baskets of bread…
When people witnessed this miracle, they said “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
We may never really know what happened on that grassy hill. I tend to find hard to believe it was only a miraculous multiplication of bread and fish, in itself totally amazing…
The Psalmist reminds us not to be afraid. Hunger can not triumph over God! Matthew, on the other hand, is telling us “one does not live on bread alone.”
It would seem there was more to it than a mere multiplication of bread and fish. It almost sounds as if what they had upon that hill, was a “sacramental meal.” The crowd was there more to have their souls fed, more so than their stomachs.
Perhaps the thrill and wonder of the presence of Jesus, together with the reality of God turned their crumbs into sacramental crumbs which nourished their hearts and souls as it happens every time we celebrate the Eucharist.
What about the generosity of those who brought the bread and fishes? It was their unselfish sharing that made the miracle possible, thus becoming Eucharist to one another.
I wonder how many miracles we may be preventing from ever happening, just because we may not be willing to share what we have and/or what we are?
We may think we don’t have much to bring to the table, so we don’t. Yet, “little is always much in the hands of Christ.”
Let’s not stand in the way of every day miracles. Think about it…