Jesus blesses the loaves of bread (Mk 8:6-8:6)

“Then Jesus ordered

The crowd

To sit down

On the ground.

He took

The seven loaves.

After giving thanks,

He broke them.

He gave them

To his disciples

To distribute.

They distributed them

To the crowd.”

 

καὶ παραγγέλλει τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς· καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν, καὶ παρέθηκαν τῷ ὄχλῳ

 

Matthew, chapter 15:36, has a similar statement about the thanksgiving, blessing, and the distribution of the 7 loaves of bread and fish.  Mark said that Jesus ordered or directed the crowd to sit down or recline on the ground (καὶ παραγγέλλει τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), instead of earlier on the grass.  This was going to be like a large picnic.  Jesus took the seven loaves (καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους).  There is no mention of the fish here.  He gave thanks or eucharized them (εὐχαριστήσας) and then broke them apart (ἔκλασεν).  He gave them to his disciples to distribute (καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν).  Then the disciples gave or set them up before the crowd (καὶ παρέθηκαν τῷ ὄχλῳ).  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness, but on a smaller scale.  Yet the word “thanksgiving” was used here instead of a “blessing” as at the earlier feeding of the 5,000 people in chapter 6:30-44.  This has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he gave thanks, blessed and broke the bread.  Otherwise, this process is very similar to the first multiplication of the loaves of bread.  However, Jesus did not look up to heaven here.  Jesus gave the food to his disciples, who in turn gave the food to the people in the crowd.

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Jesus give thanks and distributes the bread (Mt 15:35-15:36)

“Jesus ordered

The crowd

To sit down

On the ground.

He took the seven loaves

And the fish.

He gave thanks.

He broke them.

He gave them

To the disciples.

Then the disciples

Gave them

To the crowds.”

 

καὶ παραγγείλας τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν

ἔλαβεν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς ἰχθύας καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς, οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις.

 

Mark, chapter 8:6-7, has a similar statement about the thanksgiving blessing and the distribution of the 7 loaves of bread and fish.  Jesus ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground, instead of earlier on the grass (καὶ παραγγείλας τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν).  This was going to be like a large picnic.  He took the seven loaves and the fish (ἔλαβεν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς ἰχθύας).  He gave thanks or eucharized them (καὶ εὐχαριστήσας) and broke them apart (ἔκλασεν).  He gave them to the disciples (καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς).  Then the disciples gave them to the crowds (οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις).  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness, but on a smaller scale.  Yet the word “thanksgiving” was used here instead of a “blessing” as at the feeding of the 5,000 people in chapter 14:19.  This has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he gave thanks, blessed and broke the bread.  Otherwise, this is very similar to the first multiplication of the loaves of bread.  However, Jesus did not look up to heaven here.  The process is pretty much the same.  Jesus gave the food to his disciples, who in turn gave the food to the people in the crowd.

Salvation for the children of Abraham (Isa 51:1-51:3)

“Listen to me!

You that pursue deliverance!

You that seek Yahweh!

Look to the rock

From which you were hewn!

Look to the quarry

From which you were dug!

Look to Abraham your father!

Look to Sarah who bore you!

He was but one when I called him.

I blessed him.

I made him many.

Yahweh will comfort Zion.

He will comfort all her waste places.

He will make her wilderness

Like Eden.

He will make her desert

Like the garden of Yahweh.

Joy will be found in her.

Gladness will be found in her.

Thanksgiving will be found in her.

The voice of song will be found in her.”

Second Isaiah says that the rock of salvation is Yahweh. If they were pursuing righteousness, they were seeking the Lord, Yahweh. They had to remember where they came from. Here it is not dust, but a rock quarry that they came from. The rock from this quarry was formed to make them. They had to remember not only Abraham but also Sarah, one of the few times that she is mentioned outside of Genesis. Yahweh blessed Abraham so that he had many descendants. Now Yahweh was going to comfort their offspring at Zion. The desert and the wilderness were going to become like the Garden of Eden, the garden of Yahweh. There would be nothing there except joy, gladness, thanksgiving, and hymn singing in this new Garden of Eden.

The prayer to the Lord (Sir 51:10-51:12)

“I cried out.

‘Lord!

You are my Father!

Do not forsake me

In the days of trouble!

There is no help

Against the proud.

I will praise your name continually!

I will sing hymns of thanksgiving!’

My prayer was heard.

You saved me from destruction.

You rescued me in the time of trouble.

For this reason,

I thank you.

I praise you.

I will bless

The name of the Lord.”

This author prayed to the Lord like he was asking his father to help him. A father does not give up on his son in times of trouble. He had no help against the proud people. However, he was going to praise the name of God continually by singing hymns of thanksgiving. Fortunately, his prayers were heard as he was saved from destruction. He was rescued in his time of trouble. Therefore, he thanked and praised the Lord. He blessed the name of the Lord.

The invitation to praise God (Sir 39:12-39:15)

“I have more on my mind

To express.

I am full

Like the full moon.

Listen to me!

My faithful children!

Blossom like a rose!

May it grow

By a stream of water!

Send out fragrance

Like incense!

Put forth blossoms

Like a lily!

Scatter the fragrance!

Sing a hymn of praise!

Bless the Lord

For all his works!

Ascribe majesty to his name!

Give thanks to him

With praise!

Give thanks

With songs on your lips!

Give thanks

With harps!

This is what

You shall say in thanksgiving.”

Sirach assumes the first person singular in talking to his children. He has a lot more to tell them because his mind is like a full moon. He wanted his children to be like rose blossoms and grow by a water stream. He wanted the scent of the lily blossoms to be like incense that would be scattered around. He wanted them to sing a hymn of praise to the majestic Lord. The Lord should be blessed for all his works. Praise and thanksgiving should be given to the Lord with songs and harps. He was about to tell them what they should say in their thanksgiving prayer.

Invitation to repent (Sir 17:25-17:32)

“Turn back to the Lord!

Forsake your sins!

Pray in his presence!

Lessen your offenses!

Return to the Most High!

Turn away from iniquity!

He will lead you out of darkness

To the light.

Hate intensely

What he abhors!

Who will sing praises

To the Most High

In Hades?

In place of the living,

Who gives thanks?

From the dead,

As from one who does not exist,

Thanksgiving has ceased.

Those who are alive and well

Sing the Lord’s praises.

How great is

The mercy of the Lord!

His forgiveness is

For those who return to him!

Not everything is within human capability.

Since human beings are not immortal.

What is brighter than the sun?

Yet it can be eclipsed.

Flesh and blood devise evil.

He marshals the host of the height of heaven.

But all human beings are dust.

All human beings are ashes.”

Much like the later John the Baptist, Sirach here is calling for all to repent. Turn to the Lord! Give up sinning! Pray to the Lord! Turn to the Most High! Turn away from iniquity! No one can sing the praises of the Lord from Hades, the home of the dead. Only the living can give thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. The Lord is merciful. He will forgive those who return to him. Humans have limited capacities, since they are not immortal. Even the bright sun gets eclipsed. Flesh and blood humans devise evil because they are mere dust and ashes. However, the Lord has his hosts in the high heavens.

Sing to Yahweh (Ps 147:7-147:11)

“Sing to Yahweh

With thanksgiving!

Make melody to our God

Upon the lyre!

He covers the heavens with clouds.

He prepares rain for the earth.

He makes grass grow on the hills.

He gives to the animals their food.

He gives to the young ravens

When they cry.

His delight is not in the strength of the horse.

His pleasure is not in the speed of a runner.

But Yahweh takes pleasure

In those who fear him.

He takes pleasure

In those who hope

In his steadfast love.”

We are to sing with thanksgiving to Yahweh. We are to make a melody on the lyre to our God. He has covered the heavens with clouds so that he could send rain to the earth to make the grass grow on the hills. He provided food for the animals, especially the ravens when they cried. He does not delight in the strength of a horse or the speed of a human runner. Rather he takes pleasure in those who fear him. He takes pleasure in those who hope in his steadfast love.