When Jesus fed the people, they wanted to make him their king. But he escapes from the mountains. The people keep looking for him, when they find him the following day at Capernaum, they engage in a debate with him. The food Jesus gave him in the desert brings to their minds the manna of Moses. They expect Jesus to perform more miracles like this. Jesus explains to them that the real giver of the manna was not Moses, but God, his Father and that it is through him that God will continue to feed his people.
This Sunday and in the coming Sundays, the Gospel Readings will be taken from chapter six of the Gospel of John. In this chapter, John speaks about the miracle of the loaves and fish and its meaning. Jesus sees the crowd following him because of the signs that he has been working.
He takes the initiative and feeds them with five loaves and two fish and there are twelve baskets full of left-overs. Following the miracle, the people recognize that he is a prophet like Moses, who had been promised (DT 18:18) and they would like to make him their king. However, Jesus leaves the mand goes into the mountains to be alone.
The disciples sent our by Jesus, come back from their mission and report all that they have done and taught. Jesus then invites them to go with him to a lonely place where they could be by themselves and rest. They go off, but the crowds follow them. Jesus does not chase the crowd away but pities them and teaches them and later feeds them with five loaves and two fish. It might be helpful to read the entire section (MK 6:30-44) since the Gospels of the next five Sundays will show the meaning of the feeding of the crowd in chapter 6 of John.
The parable of the Good Shepherd is found only in John’s Gospel and it is the only parable in his Gospel. In the first part of the parable (John 10:1-10), Jesus uses the image of a gate. He is the gate through which the sheep pass. In the second part (John 10:11-18), he uses the image of a shepherd. A good shepherd is one who knows his sheep. Jesus knows all his sheep and they know his voice. He is ready to give his life to protect them. The events of Easter proved that he was a true shepherd of his people. Jesus gave up his life freely so that all people might re-establish their relationship with the Father.
In the Gospel of Luke, the Easter story tells us how the women discover the empty tomb and receive a message from two angels. However, the apostles refused to believe their story (Lk 24:1-12). Two other disciples also experience Jesus on their way to Emmaus as they listen to him explaining the Scriptures and finally recognize him in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24:13-35). As they return to share their experience with the other apostles, Jesus appears to all of them. He assures them that he has really risen, and he give them a new understanding of the Scriptures. It is with this new understanding of the Scriptures that they are sent out to be his witnesses, starting from Jerusalem. Meeting the risen Jesus always conveys a renewed understanding of what it means to be his follower.
Today’s Gospel shows us Jesus appearing to his disciples. They have locked themselves up in Jerusalem because they were afraid of those who had killed Jesus. Jesus appears among them and gives them his peace. Then he sends them as the Father had sent him. Thomas, one of the disciples was not with them and he will not believe that Jesus has really risen until he has given proof by touching Jesus. However, at the end he does not only touch Jesus but confesses him as “My Lord and my God”. It is important to have seen Jesus; but the real believer is the one who has not seen but yet believes in Jesus as Lord and God.
This Sunday offers us the possibility of listening to some more events of the last week of Jesus’ life, as they are recounted in the last two chapters of Mark (Mk 14-15). The story slows down considerably, and we are able to follow Jesus day by day at the beginning and hour by hour as he gets nearer and nearer to his death. He is symbolically prepared for his death when a woman anoints him with precious perfume (Mk 14: 3-9). He explains his death as giving life for the covenant God is now making with his people (Mk 14:22-25). He is then arrested, condemned and killed (Mk 14:43-15:47). Hs male disciples who should have understood him and stood by him betray and abandon him. He dies isolated from all but acknowledged by a foreigner as God’s Son (Mk 15:39) and watched over by his mother and female disciples.
This Gospel reading is part of the events of Jesus’ ministry before his arrest, judgement and death. John tells us how Jesus is anointed in Bethany by Mary (john 12:1-11), then follows the entry into Jerusalem as a humble Messiah but acclaimed by the people (John 12:12-19). There has been a growing tension in the story. Jesus knows that the end of his is near. The “hour” for which he has come is that of his death. At the same time, it is the hour of his exaltation and glorification by the Father. Like him, believers are also invited to die to themselves to enter more fully into the life of the Father.