Saturday, February 28, 2015

Seeing the Priesthood in the Loaves and Fishes

I just had an "Aha!" moment reading something about the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The book I'm reading (The Greatest Prayer by John Dominic Crossan) is discussing this miracle in detail going over how Jesus ensures the disciples' role in the miracle. Through this miracle, Jesus is basically guiding the disciples in their duties as priests down the road. Jesus is constantly asking the disciples to go to the people and ask them questions or for things. Jesus Himself never just knows as we know He could. Nor does Jesus just go straight to the source and ask Himself. 

The authors of the Gospels also repeatedly use the same formula each of the 6 times this miracle is mentioned to describe the multiplication of the food. In all cases, Jesus 'takes' the food, 'blesses' it, 'breaks' it, and 'gives' it. Sound familiar? Yeah, me too! Powerful witness to the Biblical nature of the Consecration of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass isn't it? Even later at the Last Supper (again, the Consecration of the Eucharist) and after the Resurrection, this same formula of 'take', 'bless', 'break', and 'give' is used. 

In several cases, after the Resurrection, the disciples don't recognize Jesus in speaking with him (road to Emmaus, anyone?), but only in the breaking of the bread. In other words, it's not enough to just hear about Jesus through reading the Bible or listening to preaching, you must experience Jesus through the Breaking of the Bread - the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. 

Jesus told us He was the Bread of Life.  Jesus told us His Flesh was real food and His Blood was real drink - you don't get much more real that bread and wine. Paul exhorts us not to receive the Bread of Life, Jesus, unworthily. The Eucharist is TRULY Jesus present for you and me. Some of the disciples turned away from Jesus when He said this - they understood that He was being literal. The disciples that became priests understood and accepted Jesus at His word and passed their belief down to us.

At that point, I'd say the disciples were probably deacons well on their way to becoming priests once the Holy Spirit descends upon them at Pentecost. They don't really know it yet, but they're in one heck of a Seminary!

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