Blog # 262 Jn 6: 16 - 21
After Jesus breaks away from the crowd and goes up the nearby mountain alone there is a short passage in John's Chapter Six that is not included in the series of six Sunday Gospel readings from John yet is very important in helping us grasp the meaning and current application of Chapter 6. Including the miracle in Chapter 5 in which Jesus heals a crippled man at the pool of Bethesda, and the second miracle in Chapter 6 in which He miraculously feeds a vast crowd of people , we have a third miracle here. Each of the three miracles has something special about it that helps us clarify the 'work' or purpose John had in mind in writing Chapter 6.
In this miracle, with the disciples about three or four miles out from the shore of the lake , Jesus comes to them walking on the water.
All three miracles clearly proclaim the divinity of Jesus. In the healing of the crippled man the compassion of Jesus for a single person is at issue. Everyone counts with God. But not everyone is crippled or sick. Not everyone needs physical healing. All of us however experience hunger. We need to be nourished or we die. In the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish the whole community is affected. Everyone is invited to sit down and eat. The compassion of the Eternal Word of God in Jesus is infinite, unlimited, enough for all to receive as much as they need and desire. That is a distinctive element of the second miracle. We will consider how beautiful and broadly applicable it is in our current moment of history in a future blog.
The third miracle, in the short passage we are considering here, is significantly different from the other two. In the other two miracles the deed accomplished or physical reality produced by the miracles was not supernatural, namely the healing of the sick or the bringing on of more bread and more fish. A physician, a baker, and a fisherman can all be agents in accomplishing natural experiences of healing multiplication of bread and of fish.
The supernatural element of the first two miracles miracles was the way or manner in which the natural deed came about. The accomplishment of the third miracle was not to give Jesus miraculous feet but to change the nature of water! In the third miracle the deed accomplished is supernatural. The divine Jesus, one with the Father as Word, perfectly obedient to the Father as one of us, is in total control over creation! That will be important for us to understand and to carry with us as we continue on with our response to Chapter 6.
Based upon the divinity of Jesus and His consequent divine power over all creation we can see a parallel between what He did with regard to the water and what He does with regard to the bread and wine we offer in our experience of the Mass. It is not natural for water to be qualified for someone to walk on it. It is not natural for bread and wine to be anything other than bread and wine. In considering this parallel I think we will be able to understand more clearly what Jesus does with bread and wine at the Last Supper and at Mass.