2nd Aug Year A
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
Matthew’s presentation of the Feeding of the Five Thousand illustrates magnificently the ability of the Gospel writers to allude to a number of elements in the rest of Scripture and thus give to what seems like a simple miracle, a depth of theology and spirituality.
Firstly, the odd reference to the Herod’s banquet which led to the death of John the Baptist tells us to contrast the two. Herod’s banquet was steeped in sin and selfishness and resulted in the unjust murder of a good man because of the scheming of a vindictive woman. Jesus, in the desert, offers an abundant meal, with calm courtesy and overwhelming generosity, to a multitude of needy people. Herod, by his boasting, emphasised his power over people. Jesus, by his quiet blessing, acted so calmly that most of the people didn’t even realise what had happened.
Drawing on the Hebrew Testament, Matthew reminds the readers of God’s care in Israel’s past. The ‘desert’ refers to the feeding that God gave the people during their 40 years of wandering. The multiplication of loaves would have reminded them of Elisha’s multiplication of 20 loaves to feed 100 men but it would have also shown how much greater Jesus was with his multiplication of so much less for so many more people.
Just as the readers looked back, they were also reminded of the celebration of Eucharist. Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and gives the bread as he will at the Last Supper and as it is done at every celebration of Eucharist. This miracle of multiplication is a sign of the generosity of life that is present in the Eucharist.
The abundance also refers to the glorious Messianic banquet with which God will feed his people at the end of time. Isaiah had promised that God’s people, who were without money, would be fed with the finest food and would have all their deepest desires fulfilled in the abundance of God’s love.