September 2 Gospel Reading

Mark 6:30-45


Go2.wordpress.com [30] And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus,
and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had
taught.[31] And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart
into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and
going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.[32] And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.[33]
And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot
thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.[34]
And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with
compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a
shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.[35] And
when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said,
This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:[36]
Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into
the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.

[37]
He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto
him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them
to eat?[38] He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.[39] And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.[40] And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.[41]
And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up
to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his
disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them
all.[42] And they did all eat, and were filled.[43] And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.[44] And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.[45]
And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and
to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the
people.

Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, in his Prolog wrote:

"Let me ponder on the miraculous proliferation of bread in the wilderness (Matt.14:15): 1) How the Lord fed five thousand people with the five blessed loaves. 2) How He is that Bread of Life which alone can mysteriously feed the many hungry souls which the whole of the rest of the world put together cannot feed."

St. John Chrysostom in his Homily 49 on Matthew said:

"…the multitudes not even so withdraw themselves from Him, but they follow, riveted to Him, and not even John's tragical end alarmed them…so great a thing is earnest desire, so great a thing is love; in such wise does it overcome and dispel all dangers…His doings [Jesus] exceeded what any diligence could earn…He sets forth also His motive for so healing them, His mercy, intense mercy: and He heals all…He requires not faith here. For both by coming to Him, and by leaving their cities, and by diligently seeking Him, and by abiding with Him even when hunger was pressing, they display their own faith…although the place be desert, yet He that feeds the world is here…"

"…and another thing too we learn, the self-restraint of the disciples which they practiced in necessary things, and how little they accounted of food. For being twelve, they had five loaves only and two fishes; so secondary to them were the things of the body: so did they cling to the things spiritual only."

"…He commands them to sit down on the trampled grass, instructing the multitudes in self-denial. For His will was not to feed their bodies only, but also to instruct their soul…by His giving them nothing more than loaves and fishes, and by setting the same before all, and making it common, and by affording no one more than another, He was teaching them humility, and temperance, and charity, and to be of like mind one towards another, and to account all things common."

"Let us learn therefore ourselves also to wait upon Jesus; but not for His bounty in things sensible…but to cling incessantly to the things of the Spirit. To these then let us also cling, and let us seek the heavenly bread, and having received it, let us cast away all worldly care. For if those men left houses, and cities, and kinsmen, and all, and abode in the wilderness, and when hunger was pressing, withdrew not; much more ought we, when approaching such a table, to show forth a more abundant self-command, and to set out love on the things of the Spirit, and to seek the things of sense as secondary to these."

St. Cyril of Alexandria in his Commentary on the Gospel of John 3.4 wrote:

"Initially the disciples were reluctant to feed the hungry, but seeing this, the Savior gave to them in abundance from the fragments. This teaches us as well, that we, by expending a little for the glory of God, shall receive richer grace according to the saying of Christ, 'a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.' Therefore, we must not be slothful regarding the communion of love toward our brothers and sisters but rather put away from us, as far as possible, the cowardice and fear that lead to inhospitality. Thus we might be confirmed in hope through steadfast faith in the power of God to multiply even our smallest acts of goodness."

And I'll close with a beautiful Kontakion on the Multiplication of Loaves by Romanus Melodus:

"Master, we can find only five barley loaves; No one of us brought anything into the desert, But a child is here who has them. O Lover of man, no other resources is possible for us. For an enormous and boundless number of people, O Man of pity. How can these five loaves be sufficient? In addition, he has two fishes. But hurry and nourish them, since Thou art The heavenly bread of immortality."

"When Christ heard these words of His disciples, He answered them in this way: 'You are mistaken if you do not know That I am the Creator of the universe; I provide for the world; I now know clearly what these people need; I see the desert and that the sun is setting; Indeed I arranged the setting of the sun; I understand the distress of the crowd which is here; I know what I have in mind to do for them. I myself shall cure their hunger, for I am The heavenly bread of immortality…'"

"Even though you consider carefully, can you as mere men secure nourishment, Or can you, though you are worried, feed the people? Or, then, if you cannot feed them, have you the power to keep silent? I, alone, as Creator take thought for all. I exist as good, God before the centuries. And I provide every kind of food for all people; But you, on beholding the multitude, are worried, And you do not consider the One who provides abundantly, As I am set before all, offering The heavenly bread of immortality."

"I know in advance what you are thinking and what you are saying to each other, As you see the people, the means of provision, and the hour. You are reasoning, 'Who will feed the entire crowd in the desert?' Well, know clearly, friends, who I am. I fed Israel in the desert; I gave them bread from Heaven; In a region without water, I made water to flow from a rock; …Since I am The heavenly bread of immortality."

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