Today on the 8th Sunday of Matthew, we hear the story of how Jesus fed the great multitude of men, women and children with the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, who had come to hear him speak. This story is present in all four gospels, but the spiritual meaning is particularly made clear in the gospel of St. John chapter 6. It is here we read the the great multitude of people gathered understood the miracle in the wilderness as a messianic sign. Some of the people tried to proclaim Jesus as King, but he escaped from them, because he did not want to play into their hands and encourage their political ideas about the expected messiah.
In fact Jesus rebukes those who chase after him simply to get more bread, rather he challenges them to understand and comprehend the true meaning of the miracle and instead seek the bread of eternal life. They ask, “who is this bread?” To which he replies, “I am the bread of life”….”I am the living bread that came down from heaven”. The early church fathers interpreted this miracle as the anticipation of the Eucharist.
We Orthodox Christians also commemorate this miracle in the Service of the Litiya, when the priest blesses the five loaves, wheat, wine and oil on the eve of great feastdays. This represents to us the sharing, joy and unity among those who believe and rejoice in Christ. This also in conclusion serves as an inspiration to reach out to others to share our resources with the poor and the needy.
This is proclaimed in the hymn, “the rich have become poor and have hungered, but they who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing”.
May Jesus who performed the miracle of the loaves, impart to us the meaning of our shared life and unity in Him!.
Today we in the Orthodox Church remember the Translation of the Holy Relics of Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen as well as the memory of St. Basil, Fool for Christ, whose relics lie beneath the famed Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow. The actual name of the Cathedral is dedicated to the Feast of the Intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God (Pokrov).