21 July 2019

posted 20 Jul 2019, 04:15 by C S Paul

21 July 2019

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Matthew 15:32-39 New King James Version (NKJV)

Feeding the Four Thousand

32 Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

33 Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?”

34 Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”

And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.”

35 So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. 

36 And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. 

37 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left.

38 Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 

39 And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala.

Jesus feeds the Four Thousand

by Rev. Fr. Abraham Thomas

With a slight difference, again a story of the feeding! Just as in the case of a few other incidents in here also, figuratively some of the NT scholars interpret that the first story (feeding of the five thousand) was the people of the own tribe whereas this incident refer to the wider community. Even though this is not evident in the Gospel with the extended number of people who joined the fellowship we could at least infer that the values of the 'Kingdom of Heaven' are permeating into world more vigorously.

Divine Compassion and the responsibility of the Disciples

The multitude had the freedom to be with Him for as long as they wanted. He is compassionately asking the disciples to provide them food. The doubt that the disciples had on how on earth they could provide anything for such a large crowd is natural. (Interestingly, there is an OT parallel for this doubt of the disciples- 'how can I set this before a hundred men?' II Kings 4: 42- as Elisha's servant doubted him on how the limited resource would be sufficient to a larger crowd). Origen (c.a. 254 AD+) in his Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthews says that the multitude never wanted to go away from Him as they found solace in Him. They would have gone to the nearby villages or to their own houses but they found it more significant to be with Him. (Comm. Matt: Book XI: 2). The world needs Him; it is the responsibility of the Church- the community of His disciples- to realize this need and cater accordingly. Unfortunately the paraphernalia or protocols that we would tend to hold on may ask questions like on what way that we can cater such a large crowd? Sometimes we may be the real hindrance to others to see Him or to be with Him.

The care ought to offer to those who may collapse on their way

Again it is a divinely assigned responsibility of the Church to cater to the need of those who may 'collapse on their way'. This is not the sole example of the divine intervention to those who are at the verge of breaking up. Hagar, who could not find any way-out other than 'death' is receiving water for thirst and a new vision for the future life (Gen. 21: 15-19); Elijah who was about to burn out himself under the broom tree found bread baked on coal and jar of water (I Kings 19: 3-5); Hananiah and his friends seeing Him as the 'fourth person' in the fiery experience (Dan. 3: 20-27) are only a few examples. We may be at that point of giving up ourselves finding no way forward or may be incessantly ended up before closed doors; yet let us not give up as His compassion could help us find new ways. In order that we would not 'collapse on our way' let us join His flocks in communion.

The power of confronting questions

'How many loaves do you have'? (Vs. 34)- was rather a simple question. Questions are not anything that would pleasantly be accepted by many but it may have the power to transform our attitude and vision. Questions are in fact an obstacle but a life without an obstacle will not teach us anything.