Saturday in the fifth week of the Ordinary Time2
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Saturday in the fifth week of the Ordinary Time2

Saturday of the 5 OT2

 

Readings: I Kgs 12:26-32; Mk 8:1-10.

1/ First Reading: RSV 1 Kings 12:26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, "Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David; 27 if this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah." 28 So the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, "You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt." 29 And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin, for the people went to the one at Bethel and to the other as far as Dan. 31 He also made houses on high places, and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. 32 And Jeroboam appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices upon the altar; so he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made.

2/ Gospel: RSV Mark 8:1 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him, and said to them, 2 "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; 3 and if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come a long way." 4 And his disciples answered him, "How can one feed these men with bread here in the desert?" 5 And he asked them, "How many loaves have you?" They said, "Seven." 6 And he commanded the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish; and having blessed them, he commanded that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate, and were satisfied; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. 10 And he sent them away; and immediately he got into the boat with his disciples, and went to the district of Dalmanutha.


I. THEME: Don’t value material above spiritual gains!

            People are easily exchanging spiritual for material gains because they can physically see benefits of material gains. For example, if they work on Sunday, they can see the amount of money they earn; but if they attend Sunday Mass; they don’t see any benefit in exchange for their time and effort! Many people hastily come to a conclusion that it is a waste of time to go to church. These people forgot that there are many dimensions in human life, besides the physical dimension, such as: spiritual, intellectual, psychological dimensions. If they pay attention only to the physical dimension, they reduce themselves to animal life. Though they can’t see spiritual benefit, they can’t deny its benefit in their life.

            Today readings help us to see other dimensions beside of the material benefit. In the first reading, since king Jeroboam of Israel wanted to keep material benefits in his kingdom, he made two golden calves and placed them at two frontiers, one at Dan and one at Bethel, for the people to worship instead of going up to Jerusalem. The king also established the new priesthood and the feast days for his kingdom. He forgot the reason of his ascending to the throne was the Lord God. In the Gospel, Jesus multiplied seven loaves of bread and few fishes to feed four thousand men in the desert, after they spent three days to listen to Jesus’ preaching without much food. Due to this kind of food, people became healthy.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah.

1.1/ The political reason: When people are so used with fame and power, they aren’t satisfied with what they are possessing, but to expand more. King Jeroboam completely forgot the reason why he became the king of Israel. He forgot God took ten tribes out of Solomon’s hand and gave them to him when he was still Solomon’s builder. God made the promise with him: “And if you will hearken to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you, and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you” (1 Kgs 11:38).

            (1) The king’s worry: When he saw his people kept going up to Jerusalem to worship God and to pay taxes for the Temple as described by the law, Jeroboam said in his heart, "Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David; if this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah."

            (2) The king’s foolish decision: He took counsel with his officers and they gave him a wrong one. The king followed their counsel and made two golden calves for his people to worship. He gathered people and said to them: “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt." He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.

1.2/ The religion reason: King Jeroboam knew he couldn’t destroy religion, so he misled people to worship idols. The reason why people believed in him was because the Jewish tradition believed God always talks to them through leaders or prophets. Besides making the two calves, Jeroboam “also made houses on high places, and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. And Jeroboam appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices upon the altar; so he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made.”

            His intention was to completely destroy people’s habit of worshipping the Lord, and should be easy for him to control them. But he made a wrong calculation. God made him pay for his foolish mistake; not only him but also his successors and the people.

2/ Gospel: Jesus multiplied bread to feed four thousand people.

2.1/ Jesus’ and his disciples’ reactions:

            (1) Jesus knew two basic needs of humankind: bodily and spiritual. The details of today passage highlighted Jesus’ concern not only spiritual but also material need of the people. He said to his disciples: “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come a long way.”

            (2) The disciples’ practical reaction: They were very practical. They voiced their concerns: How could we find enough bread for such a crowd in the desert? Even if we could find bread, how could we find money to buy them? That is their responsibility to find bread, our duty is to give them spiritual food!

            Many spiritual leaders can based on these reasons to turn away those who came to them for material help. They forgot that charity is the duty of all faithful, they aren’t exceptional. Moreover, many believed in God, not by preachers’ words but by their merciful acts.

2.2/ The multiplication of bread: There are two miracles of the multiplication of bread in Mark’s Gospel.

            (1) The multiplication of bread from five loaves of bread and two small fishes to feed five thousand men alone. All four evangelists reported this event (Mt 14:15-21, Mk 6:34-44, Lk 9:12-17, and Jn 6:1-14).

            (2) The multiplication of bread from seven loaves of bread and a few fishes to feed four thousand people was only reported by Mark in today passage, and mentioned by Matthews 6:10.

            - The similar things happened in both miracles: The Eucharistic formula which Jesus also used in the Last Supper: “He took the seven loaves, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd.” And he did similar thing to a few small fish.

            - The different things happened in both miracles: The amount of the present people; the amount of bread and fish; Capernaum, a Jewish region for five thousand and Decapolis, a Gentiles’ region for four thousand people; the remaining bread: 12 baskets for five thousand and 7 baskets for four thousand people.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We are the combination of soul and body. As our body needs food to live, our soul also needs to be fed by spiritual food which are God’s words and His grace in the sacraments.

            - We can’t sacrifice spiritual for material gains. God can provide both spiritual and material food for us.