“THEY WERE FILLED…THAT NOTHING BE LOST”
Saint John 6. 1-15
LAETARE: 10 March Anno Domini 2013
Father J. William Watson SSP
In The Name + of Jesus
For it is the Name of Jesus, the Word of Jesus, the voice and words of Jesus, Jesus—Who makes the Bread of everlasting life. This bread which is His True Body alone fills and saves.
Fills and saves…not just forgives!
The article upon which Christ’s Church either stands or falls is correctly articulated in Augustana IV: justification by Grace through Faith in Christ alone, and is built on the free forgiveness of all sins and original sin by Jesus’ perfect life of obedience and His atoning sacrificial death to pay for law breaking. But forgiveness is not the terminus, the end, but the beginning, the ushering in the New Testament of feast, family, festival joy and rest in aeternum!
Fundamentalist Protestants see this morning’s text (which they never preach on regularly in a systematized lectionary, but only at the leader’s whim) as functionally true and inerrant…good. And the fact that it actually happened in history does mean the Nazarene had power, and was God, for only God can trump nature with such supra-natural signs and wonders. A miracle of loaf and fish multiplication is awesome and wonderful. But unless it occurs over and over to feed the starving, hurting, diseased ridden, swollen-bellied little ones with flies on their eyes, I don’t really care. It’s more than look at Jesus—look at Who He is, it’s look at WHY Jesus has come and what He promises TO DO. The Good News of the arrival of The Kingdom and its King—Immanuel, the God/Man is that He brings forgiveness and feeding and saving!
Of course the Christ must forgive sins by becoming sin; He must wash the bloody filth off the corpse of His little lost lamb—now found by Him. He does so by letting the filth of passion, torture, and death be beaten and hammered into His bloody and spit-covered Body. Yes, forgiveness is at the heart of everything for it’s because of guilt, shame, and a need to be forgiven, that all has come unraveled and broken. But Jesus lets forgiveness blossom into the fruits of adoption and sonship. If there were only forgiveness it would be tantamount to James’ criticism of the man who sends the beggar at his door away with but a good word of cheer but no food. If all that Christ did was to forgive sins, ALL, than what good news for the young mother dying of cancer, the little boy born blind and deaf, the family grieving over the death of stillborn twins, the elderly widower wracked with Parkinson’s and palpable loneliness? No by dear Saints, Jesus brings a Gospel of hope for the hopeless and joy to the joyless that subsumes forgiveness and then goes on into deeper Divine wells of Peace and fulfillment.
He did NOT just speak of word of absolution to the five thousand and then send them on their merry way. He fed them—He fed their bellies. This text points to, and is, an allegorical reference to the Sacrament of the Altar. No, it’s not THE Sacrament of the Altar; it’s a fish fry with bread-sticks. But if Abraham’s two wives, real wives, flesh and blood women not symbols, can be allegorical—which the Apostle tells you the Holy Ghost says they are—than so too can a meal with Christ be finger-point to the Holy Eucharist!
Hagar was Sinai…bondage of Law. Law cannot be kept by sinners. Lawbreaking brings death, but only after hunger, thirst, pain, and tears. But Jerusalem which is above is free. Salem, Peace, is the Prince Who brings His Father’s Grace—free mercy and love from Heaven above to earth below.
This Jerusalem, this Salem is Christ on another mountain outside the walls of David’s city. This peace and forgiveness comes only from Jesus being the magnet for all the multiplication of all of the pain, sorrow, and anguish from Abel’s cries to yours. This love is so great and overflowing that it doesn’t stay dead but rises like fresh baked bread to feed a multitude of brothers and sisters.
“They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places” wrote Esaias. That was a prophecy of both the five thousand in John and the smaller multitude gathered here today by the same Spirit. For the only “way” is in HE Who is THE WAY. The only high place is the Golgotha mount which gives way to the High Altar of His Mass and the true Bread of Heaven. “They shall not hunger nor thirst…and I will make my mountain a way.”
The way is by Grace through faith. The way is by Jesus’ mercy and forgiveness. The way is IN Christ’s Body and Blood and Word. The way gathers you at Table and feeds you God’s own Flesh and Blood. To be sure, symptoms and physical manifestations of decay and eventual death will remain. It is true that heartaches and tears will still linger. But because Jesus feeds you not fish and bread but His actual Body and Blood, into your mouths, you have as “much as you would,” you have the Meal of Mercy which does surpass all understanding. It does make all the difference in the world.
Forgiven by + Christ—by His Work alone.
Gathered by Christ—by His Work alone.
Fed by Christ—by His Work alone.
The Peace of the Lord be with you alway.
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost