Homily 370 – 8th after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
August 11, 2019
Epistle: (124) – 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Gospel: (58) – Matthew 14:14-22
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.
Five loaves and two fish, and twelve basketfuls left. Seems straightforward, but that may not be the end of the story.
What the account of Christ feeding the five thousand in the wilderness offers bears a striking resemblance to another time people were in the wilderness with no food.
Those people were the Israelites, led by Moses out of Egypt.
Perhaps we are familiar with the story – the Children of Israel, God’s people, were in the desert of Sinai after leaving Egypt. They were hungry. They complained to God that while they were slaves in Egypt, they at least had food.
The account is found in Exodus 16 verse 11 and following:
And the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”
In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer (note: about 2 quarts), according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
Why were the children of Israel not allowed to save any of the manna from heaven? Saving for the future was a demonstration that they had no faith in God to provide for them.
And, in a very important way, is a lesson to us when we offer the prayer our Lord taught us, asking God to give us this day our daily bread – our manna.
Another thing to notice is that the people gathered different amounts – some gathered more, some gathered less. Yet – and this is another miracle – whoever gathered more had nothing left over, and whoever gathered less had no lack.
St. Paul alludes to this in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians Chapter 8 when he talks about giving. He summarizes it a bit differently – your abundance, if you have it, should supply the need, and when you are in need, their abundance will supply you.
These are practical ramifications of life in Christ. Our material wealth will, in one way or another, be taken from us. It will become worm-infested and stink, instead of the sweet sustenance only good for one day.
Elsewhere, in His sermon on the mountain, he reminds us that saving for the future is foolish – God provides what we need.
I may misspeak – there is a difference between saving for the future for specific things, like for college or for a place to live or for transportation, and saving in order that we may rely on ourselves and no longer work.
A self-reliant retirement is a recent thing in the human existence. In old days, especially in the South where I grew up, the parents might stop being employed, but they would never stop working.
Once that happened, they would perhaps turn to one of their children, and live with them, depending on their support. And they would help also, for certain.
What we also can see is that Christ is portrayed as our Moses – or, better stated, Moses prefigures Christ, the true Savior.
Christ promises us today, and His presence with us forever. He promises us our daily bread. He tells us that regardless of our behavior, God loves us, and takes notice of our conditions and notices our needs, and uses those who have to meet the needs of those who don’t have.
In the same breath, Christ is very clear: we may not rely on ourselves. The story of the foolish man, the moronic man, who said he would build bigger barns and take his rest and ease should convince us of that.
Relying on ourselves means we are rejecting God’s love and care for us. None of us likes to be rejected. Particularly by those we love.
Regardless of what our society tells us, dependence on God is not weakness. Dependence on God is not foolishness.
Dependence on God is a gracious acknowledgement, gracious acceptance of His love for us.
A response to our prayer – give us this day, our daily bread.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!