Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Loaves and the Fishes

Reflection on Today’s (Tuesday's) Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM SUNDAY'S READING HERE

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 25:6-10
Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4.5.6
Matthew 15:29-37

“They gathered up the fragments left over, these filled seven hampers.” (Matt. 15:37). From the two fish and the seven loaves of bread Jesus is able to feed the multitude. Did you catch that there are seven hampers left over from the miracle?  That means that there is even enough for those travelling home to have something to eat. This miracle foreshadows the Eucharist

Lately, my son and I  have been talking a lot about prefiguration.*  In his study guide for a book in his literature class the concept is introduced as a basic literary tool. 

He had already heard the term because of our Bible studies so it made total sense to him. There is an amazing example of foreshadowing (or prefiguration) in our Gospel reading for the day!
I love when school and the readings have such serendipitous connections!

This miracle foreshadows the Eucharist and we can easily see why. It is later understood as symbolizing the Eucharist.
~~> Jesus thanks God the Father: “Jesus then took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks he broke them (kai eucharistesas eklasen), and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowd.”
~~>We easily find an echo of what the celebrant says in the Mass while proclaiming the Eucharistic prayer.
The word “Eucharist” is well known in translation as “Thanksgiving.” We hear these prayers each time we participate in the Mass.

The gathering of the fragments is found also in one of the earliest declarations of faith called the Didache or the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. The phrase symbolizes the unity of the church made up of the different fragments.

Maybe you've sung the Communion Song, "One bread; one body . . . . .  we are one body in this one Lord"

Another one of the Communion Songs frequently sung at the Liturgy:  “As the Grains of Wheat” once scattered on the hill were gathered into one to become our bread, so may all your people from all the ends of the earth be gathered into one in you.” (This comes right from the Didache! -- see below)

Didache Chapter 9:1-5:
In regard to the Eucharist—you shall give thanks thus: First, in regard to the cup: We give you thanks, our Father, for the holy vine of David your son, which you have made known to us through Jesus your Son. Glory be to you forever. In regard to the broken bread: We give you thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you have made known to us through Jesus your Son. Glory be to you forever. As this broken bread was scattered on the mountains, but brought together was made one, so gather your Church from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. For yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever. Let no one eat or drink of the Eucharist with you except those who have been baptized in the name of the Lord.

Within the text of today's reading we do well to remember the “fish”.
This became an early symbol for Jesus himself in the form of an acronym. 

The word fish in Greek is ichthus and the letters symbolize the titles of Jesus:

I=Jesus or Iesus

CH=Christos or Christ

TH=Theos or God

U= Hyuios or Son of (God)

S=Soter or Savior


Sources and Resources:
*Prefigure: to show or represent beforehand by a figure or type; foreshadow. 
Fr. Bert Buby  
Didache on-line - Paraclete Press 
Didache on-line - New Advent 
A Catholic Mom - a reflection on the reading
You Tube: One Bread One Body

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