“the Lord is my shepherd, i lack for nothing” this verse from psalm 23 has brought comfort, strength and faith to people for centuries. it shows God’s providential love and the faithfulness to us in a promise that lasts forever.
today’s gospel– the feeding of the 5,000 in matthew — unpacks how jesus is our 23rd psalm shepherd and the consequences of jesus’ presence and action for us. miraculous things happen through sharing.
here is a parallel from the gospel of matthew 14: 13-21 and psalm 23:
“this is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” relates to “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.”
(jesus) “ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass” relates to “in green pastures he makes me lie down to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul.”
(jesus) “taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves” relates to “you set a table before me”
“they all ate and were satisfied” relates to “goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life; i will dwell in the house of the LORD for endless days”
since matthew’s gospel was primarily written for jesus’ followers in the jewish community after his resurrection, these echoes between matthew and the psalm would be easily seen and understood. we have to learn these lessons differently.
miraculous things happen through sharing
how did jesus take care of all these people? it was by the hands of the disciples through what they already had. what they had already was changed into an abundance! “Jesus said to them, ‘There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.’” this can be another was of jesus saying, “love your neighbor.”
the disciples had to learn this kind of love through jesus’ presence and action. jesus took the bread (and fish) they had, blessed it, broke it and shared it. these are the same actions of jesus at the last supper. taking bread and wine, saying the blessing, breaking it and sharing it has special meaning– reality is transformed; jesus becomes really present to his disciples as the good shepherd who feeds and cares for them.
this is the power of the eucharist for us every time we enter into those sacred words. jesus shares his very self through love. we are spiritually fed in order to continue jesus’ loving actions in the world. yes– through our hands with what we already have. the good shepherd will continue to grace us with goodness and mercy so that we can share with others; to love our neighbor as jesus loves us.
miraculous things happen through sharing this divine love