|Feeding of the Multitude Limbourg Brothers|
- Genesis 32:22-31 and Psalm 17:1-7, 15 •
- Isaiah 55:1-5 and Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21 •
- Romans 9:1-5 •
- Matthew 14:13-21
As with many other instances, it it crucial to remember that the ancient world (like most people at most times and places, in fact), thought in terms of symbolic meaning. For the Jews, symbolic meaning had to be connected with their Scriptural inheritance. In other words, their assessment of Jesus -- who he really was and what his words and actions meant -- drew on the parallels they could find with the promises of God recorded in Scripture. So too it must be for us since, as St Paul emphatically declares in the Epistle, it is the Israelites who were given "the adoption, the glory, the covenants, . . . the law, the worship, and the promises . . . the patriarchs". Furthermore, "from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever".
|Grunewald The Prophet Isaiah|
In John's Gospel Jesus himself dwells on the significance of the feeding miracles. He draws a key distinction which we might describe as the difference between 'bread for life' and 'the bread of life', which he then declares himself to be. The essential message is that even the provision of astonishing quantities of bread for life is not an adequate substitute for the one True Bread of spiritual life. Viewed from this perspective, the feeding miracles still carry an important lesson for a deeply consumerist culture such as ours.