Jesus, The Giver of Eternal Life

Weekly Missionary Reflection
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 25 July 2021

2Kings 4:42-44; Ps. 145:10-11,15-16,17-18; Eph. 4:1-6; John 6:1-15

This story is focusing on Jesus’ identity and human’s failure to understand His “sign”. First, Jesus is pro-active and initiative. Seeing a lot of people come, He wants to feed them. When He sees problem and crisis happen, He finds the solution right away. John emphasizes the figure of Jesus as the Messiah who concerns about His people’s life. Jesus Himself even distributes the barley loaves and fish to such plenty of people. His disciples are only involved at the end, when they collect the left over loaves. The story focuses on Jesus as the giver of life. This given life is eternal. This is the reason of the disciples to collect the left over 12 baskets of loaves, in order that “no one is abandoned” (v. 12). This is different from the manna told in OT which would become wormy and stank if stored long time (Exo. 16:19-20).

Second, Jesus is similar to Moses and Elisha, at the same time surpassing them both. The Israelites expected the coming of a prophet like Moses (Deu. 18:15-18). As Moses went up to Mount Sinai, so did Jesus go up to the mountain, both at the beginning (v. 3) and the end of this story (v. 15). When the Israelites asked for food, Moses had to ask and got guidance from the Lord (Num. 11:13). On the other hand, Jesus “had known what to do” (v. 6). He is greater than Moses. He presents the Lord who always provides life to His people. The Prophet Elisha provided 20 barley loaves made from the first fruits to feed 1 hundred people (2 Kings 4:24-22, first reading). Then Jesus came as Elisha did, but does even greater. Imagine, only with 5 loaves and 2 fish, Jesus fed 5000 people and still they had left over of 12 full baskets.

Third, Philip and Andrew fail to understand. The duo disciples from Betsaida are often presented in the Gospel of John. Jesus tested the faith of Philip: seeing such a big need of food, what or whom will he rely on? Philip saw too many people that he thought two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little bit! They needed more money. Andrew, on the other hand, saw the too few amount of food. 5 barley loaves and 2 fish were impossible to feed 5000 people! Philip and Andrew failed to understand, as they were too focus on calculation: to count and rely on self-ability. They didn’t even count on Jesus. Every time Jesus “tests” each of us: whom do we rely on? Do not let the mistake of Philip and Andrew repeat: too much relying on money or complaining about being helpless!

Fourth, even many people also don’t understand. From the past to present, religion and politic aspirations are always mixed. We always expect to have Jesus, who comes like Moses and Elisha and at the same time surpassing both of them, as a King. Many disciples of Jesus, in the past and now, still expect Him as a Prophet who can only do miracles and as a King who fulfills the physical and wordly need of His disciples. Jesus always keeps distance from such political aspiration. Seizing and managing the power are not the purpose of His coming. Should they not be the character of His Church too.

(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:

For Evangelization intention:
Social Friendship: In the situation of social, politic and economic conflict, we hope to bravely and enthusiastically become a means of dialogue and friendship. We pray …

For Indonesian Churches intention:
For teachers: May all teachers be more creative by trying to develop the education materials through social media and technology. We pray …

Special Intention for the year of St. Joseph:
Please bestow us the Spirit of Joy, in order for us to feel the joy in educating the young people, like St. Joseph, together with Mother Mary escort the Son’s growth, in the Nazarene family. We pray…

Amen

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