Tag Archives: Passover

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

“The Feeding of the Five Thousand”
John 6:1-15 in a couplet
Sunday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit].” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

John 6:1-15

A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kindred; that is the one to whom you shall listen.

Deuteronomy 18:15

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The Parable of the Watchful Servants

Parable of the Watchful Servants

Luke 12:35-38

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow are but a blink of an eye in the ever present God. The rich man tarried over his possessions when his life suddenly ended (Luke 12:16-21). The ravens and lilies of the field flutter in the Father’s hand without anxiety, possessing nothing and living in the eternal Now (Luke 12:24-27).

From the tranquility of the field, Luke switches to an all-night soldierly vigilance:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.”

Girt loins hearken back to the first Passover: “This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you will eat it in a hurry” (Exodus 12:11). Attachments to Egypt with all of its savory fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic had to be cut off (Numbers 11:5).

Watchful servants have their lamps alight. Bright-eyed and alert, they are ready to spring at the master’s knock between midnight and early dawn. Drowsiness and fatigue are conquered by faithful obedience. 

The master is so overjoyed when he returns that he reverses roles and plays the host. After a long and arduous vigil, his servants relax and enjoy a banquet served by their own master. 

In another parable highlighting the selflessness of the servant, masters are not expected to show any gratitude (Luke 17:7-10). After all, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.”

Parables are sparks of an infinitely luminous gem. The master who returns in the middle of the night, ready to party again after a wedding feast, reveals a lavishly generous, self-forgetting God in love with his children. 

Commentators speak about a “reversal of roles” in this parable, but the entire person and message of Jesus Christ turn expectations upside down. He is a divine infant (Luke 2:6-7), a servant king (John 13:1-16), a bridegroom (NT citations), a mother hen (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34), and a crucified conqueror.

Jesus used multiple, paradoxical images and parables because God cannot be put into a box. No earthly role, name, or title encapsulates divinity. 

The parable of the watchful servants teaches us to stay awake and alert, for the master may return at any moment of the night. It also tells us to be open to surprises. Nobody knows what God has prepared for those who love him.


The Passover Meal

During these days of Holy Week I’ve been thinking of the Passionist house of St. Martha in Bethany where I stayed about a week a few years ago. Looking eastward from the roof of the house on a clear day you can see down to the Judean desert miles away. The ancient road Galilean pilgrims took to Jerusalem for the feasts began there in Jericho and passed by this site. The Passionist house stands over parts of the ancient village of Bethany; 1st century ruins stretch out on its eastern side. From the roof you could see the traditional tomb of Lazarus if the modern Israeli security wall didn’t block your view.

It’s a place that stirs your imagination.

Most likely Jesus lived here with his friends during Jewish feasts when he came from Galilee. It was the obvious place for Galilean pilgrims to camp in those times when the city would be so crowded. The Mount of Olives just west of Bethany was sometimes called the “Mount of the Galileans.” Here Jesus would likely be among friends, like Martha, Mary and Lazarus. A safe place. From here he walked to Jerusalem, a few miles away, over the Mount of Olives to teach and pray in the temple. Likely, followers from Galilee would accompany him back and forth, and they were armed.

Would this explain why the temple leaders reached out to an insider like Judas as a way of capturing Jesus, who seemed so secure? Perhaps his disciples thought so too; they’re so complacently confident that nothing will happen to him. They’ll take care of that.

“Where do you want us to prepare the Passover supper for you?” his disciples ask (Matthew 26,27) Surely, Jesus could have chosen to eat the Passover there in Bethany, which Jewish law saw as part of Jerusalem in times of feasts when the city’s population multiplied. It would have been a meal among his own, like that he enjoyed after raising Lazarus from the dead.And it would have been safer.

Instead, he chose to eat the Passover close by the temple. The traditional site of the Last Supper places the site just south of the temple. They would have eaten it there, as the lambs were being slaughtered for sacrifice. It certainly wasn’t a place chosen for security.

Reality has Come

“Reality has come,” Melito, bishop of Sardis in the 2nd century, says in a homily for Easter. “The type has passed away… The lamb gives place to God, the sheep gives place to a man, and the man is Christ, who fills the whole of creation.

“The sacrifice of the lamb, the celebration of the Passover, and the prescriptions of the Law have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Under the old Law, and still more under the new dispensation, everything pointed toward him.

“Both the Law and the Word came forth from Zion and Jerusalem, but now the Law has given place to the Word, the old to the new. The commandment has become grace, the type a reality. The lamb has become a Son, the sheep a man, and man, God.

“The Lord, though he was God, became man. He suffered for the sake of those who suffer, he was bound for those in bonds, condemned for the guilty, buried for those who lie in the grave; but he rose from the dead, and cried aloud… I have freed the condemned, brought the dead back to life, raised men and women from their graves… I am the Christ; I have destroyed death, triumphed over the enemy, trampled hell underfoot, bound the strong one, and taken men and women up to the heights of heaven: I am the Christ.

“Come, then, all nations, receive forgiveness for the sins that defile you. I am your forgiveness. I am the Passover that brings salvation. I am the lamb who was immolated for you. I am your ransom, your life, your resurrection, your light. I am your salvation and your king. I will bring you to the heights of heaven. With my own right hand I will raise you up, and I will show you the eternal Father.”