Standing on the Rock Week 1: Christ Feeds Us Through His Church.
This week we are beginning a five-week August Series about standing on the solid foundation, the solid rock, of Christ’s Church. In today’s introductory message, we hear the familiar story, from Matthew’s perspective, of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Let’s put ourselves in this scene (Matthew 14:13-21). After a long day, the exhausted and exasperated disciples try to get Jesus to send away the hungry throng; but Jesus looks at them, so preoccupied with their own selfish concerns, and says, “Give them some food yourselves” (14:16). Imagine their shock: five thousand men, with another few thousand women and children; and the Master wants the apostles to give them a meal. They look at each other in confusion and apprehension; they point out that they have barely enough food even for themselves, let alone to feed thousands of hungry hangers-on; but Jesus insists, and finally they hand over their little stash, and Jesus works wonders. The most obvious lesson hidden in this scene is about Christ’s heart. Jesus’ compassion leads him to put aside his own plans for the sake of the needy crowds. Then, it overflows in a miracle so awe-inspiring, that it is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels. This is our God! He is always thinking of us! He fills us with good things and is preparing even better things for us in heaven; but there are other lessons here too – like the lesson about how Jesus works. After blessing and breaking the bread, he gave it to his apostles and told them to distribute it; and the miracle only occurred when they obeyed him. This is still how Jesus works today. He’s a team player, not a solo act. He feeds each one of us with his Word and his Sacraments through the Church; and he feeds those outside the Church with the light of his truth through each one of us. At least, he wants to – but it’s up to us to let him (adapted from www.epriest.com).
1. Can you recall in your childhood when your parents forced you to do something good that you didn’t like, such as to eat your vegetables? As an adult, do you appreciate that? How does it feel to do the same with your own children?
2. Does the Church feed you and nourish you spiritually? Have you gone through seasons of your life where you resisted the Church’s spiritual nourishment?
3. How would you react if Jesus told you, as he tells the disciples in today’s Gospel, “Give them some food yourselves?”
4. Do you feel that you play a part in the work of the Church to bring spiritual nourishment to others? How specifically have you done so in the past? What opportunities might you have to do so in the present?