I find the Easter season to be a very curious time of the Church
year. For decades liturgists have been telling us that we should enjoy
fifty days of unmitigated joy. I've not exactly tuned into that myself.
For some reason, and maybe it's the Irish in me, I find it easier to deal
with 40 days of Lent! But, the past ten years or more I've been just
wondering about how this season plays out. Hence:
"Why this gospel at this time in Easter season?" That's what I was
wondering about when I looked at this portion of John chapter 6. It's
not the story of Christ's resurrection. It's too early for stories
about the Ascension. So, why this gospel now? Here are my guesses.
Seems to me that the early Church didn't know what to make of Christ's resurrection
and spent a long time getting over confusion, amazement, and incredulity.
I find that to be true today. "What is this all about?" "What
does it mean that Christ came back from the dead?"
Well, this gospel story seems to be one way of answering that question.
It's the Johnannine version of the Multiplication of Loaves. Jesus
does all the work, distributing those loaves and fish to the five thousand
plus, and THEN he makes the disciples clean up. Both seem to be instructive.
Jesus continues his teaching ministry in this post-Eastertide by showing
us three things:
First, he feeds others.
Second, he feeds others abundantly.
Third, he avoids becoming idolized as "one who feeds."
In other words, Jesus acts on our behalf to feed us (and to show us how to
feed others!) with an abundance. But, he rejects being stuck in the
category of just someone there to respond to our hungers. It's indeed
Jesus, show me how you bless all of us with an abundance that feeds our hungers.
And, let me not idolize you as just a source of being filled. Teach
me the meaning of your resurrected life in the world and Church today.