Multiplication of the bread for the pandemic-laden people

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

It is not just the hunger for food but the deeper longing for spiritual nourishment that the whole Christendom truly needs these days. Today's Gospel taken from John 6:1-15 highlights the anguished cries of the people for miracles to heal our land and to give hope to the millions who are suffering from poverty, social injustice, and conflicts in our economic, social, political, and even spiritual lives.

While the trapos are busy bickering, throwing mud at each other, posturing as the new saviors of a beleaguered nation, they are actually pushing their own agenda for self-aggrandizement. The people of God are abandoned to fight for their own survival, and left to fend for themselves as the constant threat of death hovers over the horizon. The people are hungry for miracles to save them. They are a confused, lost flock without a shepherd. They hunger for miracles, to feed every village of 5,000 or more impoverished people, and five loaves and two fish are definitely not enough. The nation needs miracles as we remember the many miracles that the Lord Jesus Christ brought about in those glorious days in the New Testament. As we reflect today, let us find meaning in each of them.

We can classify the miracles of the Lord into four classes. First, the healing of hunger and thirst; second, the healing from sickness and death; third, the healing from evil spirits; and fourth, the healing from hopelessness and lack of faith. On thirst and hunger, Jesus' first ever miracle was transforming water into wine (John 2:1-11) in the wedding in Cana. Then, today's gospel on the multiplication of the loaves in John 6:1-15 and Matthew 14:15-21, followed by the great haul of fish in the lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1-11). That miracle was repeated in the sea of Tiberias (John 21: 4-11). These miracles demonstrate the Lord's concern for the material hunger of God's chosen people. As a good shepherd, He always led his flock to verdant pastures, into the land of milk and honey, with flowing water that nourishes the body and the spirit. The community pantries today are manifestations of the Lord's continuing mercy and care for his suffering people.

The second class of miracles are the healing from bodily ailment and physical maladies. Jesus healed the nobleman's son in Cana (John 4:46-47). He cured Peter's mother-in-law in Capernaum (Mark, 1:30-31). He healed a leper (Mark 1:40-45). Jesus also cured the centurion's servant in Capernaum (Matthew 8:5-13). He also raised the widow's son from the dead in the town of Nain (Luke 7:11-18). Jesus cured a paralytic in his own village, a very exceptional one because he always said that a prophet is not honored in his own village (Matthew 9:1-8). A woman who was suffering from endless bleeding for 12 years was healed by Jesus when she touched the edge of his cloak (Luke 8:43-48). He opened the eyes of two blind men (Matthew 9:27-31). He healed an invalid near the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9). He healed a blind man by spitting into his eyes (John 9:1-12). He restored the eyesight of Bartimaeus in Jericho (Mark 10:46-52).

Jesus restored the withered hand of an invalid on Sabbath Day (Matthew 12:10-13). He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44). Jesus raised from the dead the ruler's daughter (Matthew 9:18-26), and also the daughter of Jairus in the three gospels of Mark 5:21-43, Matthew 9:18-26, and Luke 8:40-56.

The third class is driving out the evil spirits or exorcism, as was done to the blind and deaf-mute man possessed by the demon (Matthew 12:22). Another man possessed by the demon could not speak and Jesus loosened his tongue. (Matthew 9:32-33). He cured two demoniacs in Gadarene (Matthew 8:28-34). He cast out the unclean spirit in the synagogue (Mark: 1:23-28). He cast out demons into a herd of pigs (Matthew 8:28-33).

The fourth class is giving hope to the broken-hearted and fearful people. Jesus walked on water as told by Matthew 14:22-33, Mark, 6:45-52, and John 6:16-21. And the greatest of all was his own resurrection from the dead, which he attributed to the Father (John 11:25-26). Today, the people are thirsting for miracles to heal them from poverty, the COVID-19 virus, and from a general sense of hopelessness and helplessness. The politicians are not the answers. They are parts of the problems. We need no less than the Lord to save us from all these pains.

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