|Feeding the Multitude -- 10th century ivory|
- 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 is crucial to remember that the ancient world (like most people at most times and places, in fact), thought in terms of symbolic meaning rather than explanatory hypotheses. For the Jews, if symbolic meaning was to be truly revelatory, it had to be connected with their Scriptural inheritance. In other words, their understanding of who Jesus really was and what his words and actions meant relied on the parallels they could find with the promises of God recorded in Scripture. This is where we too should seek understanding 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 . . .". Furthermore, "from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever".
|Duccio -- The Prophet Isaiah|
In John's Gospel Jesus himself dwells on the significance of the feeding miracles. He draws a key contrast which we might express as 'bread for life' versus 'the bread of life'. It is the 'bread of life' that he declares himself to be. The essential message is that even the provision of amazing 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 carry an important lesson for a deeply consumerist culture such as our own. The fact that modern technology has an unprecedented capacity to provide for our material needs can lead us, mistakenly, to place our ultimate faith in it.