(Passing thoughts on two verses from this evening's Gospel)...
12 And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost.
13 They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten.
Hearing these words, and somewhat neglecting their context, I thought: What is left over is not neglected or worthless in God's eyes. [Here I was thinking of stubborn pockets of faith in an unbelieving world, or flashes of goodness in a mostly wasted life.] He sends His workers to collect the goodness that remains, and when their work is done, they have found richness and abundance that one might not have expected. Then, when typing this, it also occurred to me that just as care was taken with the multiplied loaves, which were a type of the Eucharist, so we should also show exceeding care to not lose the smallest fragment of the true bread of heaven, which we receive in Holy Communion.
Unsurprisingly, the saints have a different take on this passage. Saint Thomas in the Catena Aurea, following Saint Augustine and looking at the larger picture, considers the leftover food to symbolize the Divine teachings which the multitude cannot take in immediately, which are entrusted to the Church (the 12 apostles) to distribute later.
For Saint John Chrysostom, the fragments serve to show that the multiplication was not an illusion, that the people were fed from the loaves mentioned, that Jesus created exactly the amount He willed, foreseeing how much would be consumed and how much would be left over.
Labels: Loaves and Fishes