Friday, April 8, 2016

Bible & Brew: Second Cup

In today's first reading (Acts 5:34-52) we learn that the Apostles' journey continues.
Just prior to today's reading the Apostles had been visited by an angel of the Lord who opened the prison door, telling them that their work was not yet complete and that the Lord wanted them to go to the Temple to continue on in the ministry. 
The Apostles' adventure picks up with them standing before the Sanhedrin. By this point, the members of the Sanhedrin were fed up with the Apostles who continually disobey their orders. As the Apostles state in verse 32 they only take orders from the Holy Spirit. When the Sanhedrin got word of this they wanted to have the Apostles put to death.

The Apostles' lives were spared notably because of one member of the Sanhedrin; Gamaliel who was a Pharisee was a wise man. Because of his vast experience, he believed that when man interfered with God's will or actions that this only results in a battle against God himself. Therefore, the Apostles were not condemned to death but rather they were flogged and then released. Ironically the flogging only energized the Apostles more.

"So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name."

I can only speak for myself but I am not like the Apostles in this regard. When I encounter someone bashing me whether it be for my faith or anything, if it becomes a confrontation, I chose flight instead of fight. The Apostles choice to rejoice after being flogged makes me think about when Jesus says, if someone slaps you on the cheek, turn and let him hit the other also. There is a deeper theological meaning to this than what most people think but I am not going to go there. For now, I just want that image to shine through, as this is what I picture in my mind's eye. Quite frankly, we must know ourselves and our limitations. I am not a charismatic person and I am not the type of person to evangelize. You would never see me on the streets programing God's word. Nor would my expression be "bring it on" when someone wants to question the faith. However, let me be clear, I am not saying that the Apostles are not good models for us of how we should be. It's time to go a little deeper, let's take a look at today's Gospel (John 6:1-15). 

Author's note: It's no joke, the first words out of my mouth after looking at today's Gospel was, "oh...yes! This is going to be a good one!" 

The Gospel today is probably one of the most familiar of Jesus' miracles.
Throughout the Gospels it's not uncommon for Jesus to go off and pray. Jesus deserved alone time too! Imagine being followed constantly. As described in today's Gospel people left their homes to gather around Jesus. In John's account of the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus tests his Apostle's by asking them where they could buy bread to feed the hungry crowds. They were concerned because it would cost nearly a year's wages to feed everyone. Note: a derarri was a Roman's wage for an entire day.

Did you know? The feeding of the 5,000 also known as the multiplication of the loaves is the only miracle that is found in all four Gospels.

Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish and offered a prayer and miraculously there was enough food to feed the multitude of people. This miracle is believed to have been a foresight of the Eucharist and the final banquet in the kingdom. Like many passages there is always a deeper meaning and symbolism. Just as this passage anticipates the Eucharist it also looks back to the time of Exodus and the feeding of Israel with manna.

Numbers are also significant in the Bible. In this passage the numbers five (5) and two (2) are especially significant. According to St. Anthony of Padua [St. Anthony, the saint we pray to when we have lost something] the five loaves represent the five refreshments for the soul (the Five Books of Moses). They are as follows: 1) Rebuking of sin by contrition; 2) the barring of sin in confession; 3) the abasement and humiliation in satisfaction; 4) the zeal for souls in preaching; and 5) the sweetness of contemplating our heavenly home. The loves were specifically referred to as barley loaves; the food of the poor. The five loaves were not only physically nourishing but spiritually too. Finally, the two fish which were brought up from the sea represent Moses and Peter. Moses was taken up from the water; he was found in swaddling clothes in the River Jordan. And Peter too came from the water as he was a fisherman. The meaning behind the fish is leadership so that we can align ourselves to God.

Meditation: Let us concentrate on aligning ourselves to God no matter the cost. Let's be like the Apostles who rejoice after being bashed for their faith. What do I need to cut out of my life or at the very least minimize in my life so that I have more time for God?


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