His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church delivered a sermon in the historical chapel of Saint Great Martyr George of the Patriarchal Residence in which he explained the significance of the Evangelical Pericope of the 8th Sunday after the Pentecost in the Gospel according to Saint Evangelist Matthew, chapter 14, lines 14-32, presenting the multiplication of the loaves of bread by Jesus Christ, our Lord.
The wonder of the multiplication of the five loaves of bread and two fish shows the merciful love of God for the humans, especially for those who love Him and want to meet Him, explained His Beatitude: “The Gospel shows us the importance of people’s meeting God in order to feed on His word, expressed in His Gospel. Then, we see His mercy which heals the sick brought to Him. Thirdly, the Gospel shows that Christ, our Lord, does not separate the care for soul from that for body. But He prioritizes soul, and then the body.”
The multiplication of the five loaves of bread and two fish inspired the social work of the Church, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel also said: “The Gospel is a source of light for every Christian and for the entire Church as well, because it inspired the social work of the Church, the canteens for the poor, aiding of the hungry, sick and poor.”
Jesus Christ, our Lord, does not make wonders to impress people
The Patriarch of Romania has also emphasised the fact that the bread and loaves of bread were multiplied while they were distributed: “The multiplication of the five loaves of bread and two fish was preceded not only by the healing of the sick, but also by the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. In other words, Christ, our Lord, first feeds the humans’ souls with His loving merciful presence and with the light of His word, with the light of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven or of the eternal life. This priority that Christ, our Lord, gives to the spiritual food equals in the Orthodox Church the fact that we fast before having the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist. While fasting we listen to the Gospel and come close to the Eucharist. Therefore, Christ, the Lord, has not multiplied the loaves of bread the moment He met the crowd to feed their bodies, but only after they have received spiritual food and the sick ones were healed. The five loaves of bread and two fish were little food compared to the hungry crowd who have not eaten anything that day, but the little becomes much through blessing. This fact shows the merciful power of the Lord because He does not make wonders to impress, intimidate, or to brag Himself, but out of merciful love for the humans who have patiently listened to the Gospel and attended the healing of many sick and suffering people. Due to their devoted listening to and patience Christ, our Lord, prepared a dinner for them lest they spend money and get tired wondering through the villages around to buy food. Very important is the fact that the loaves of bread and fish were multiplied while being given to the people. They were multiplied because they were blessed and because they were distributed. Nobody has seen piles of bread or fish, but they were multiplied while being distributed. Thus, Christ teaches us that we should not collect great supplies of material things which bring about only a false safety and happiness only because we have collected temporary material things. God’s care and love for the humans is greater than any collection of temporary material things.”
Christ, the Lord, wants His blessed gifts to be received in good order
The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church has also shown that the role of those who distribute the gifts received from God is to distribute and show to many people the love of God as witnesses of the love of God for the humans: “Christ, the Lord, calls us to have an attitude of confidence in the merciful love of God and not to be greedy to collect supplies, lots of material goods thinking that they can give us the safety of life. We also see that Christ, the Lord, orders the crowd to sit down on the grass. Why that? Because the blessed gifts, namely the bread and fish had to be distributed in good order. Had he let them all stand up and shown then the bread and fish the people would have rushed to get them and would have created confusion and disorder. We see that Christ, our Lord, wants the gifts He blessed to be received in good order, while waiting with peace and calm. He blessed the food, broke the bread and gave it to His disciples who distributed it. Here we see the role of priesthood. Christ gives within the Church, but through the hands of His Apostles and followers who are the servants of the holy altar. Thus, the role of those who distribute the gifts received from God is to distribute and show the love of God as witnesses of the God’s love for the humans. After the crowd was fed up the crumbs were gathered in 12 baskets. They symbolise the fact that God gives food to His people chosen, Israel, to the 12 nations, if the people obey the word of God. But these 12 baskets also show that Christ, the Lord, feeds His Church through the 12 Apostles both in regard to the spiritual gifts and to the charitable merciful care for the hungry and poor.”
There is a certain resemblance between the wonder of the multiplication of the five loaves of bread and two fish and the Holy Eucharist
Any material surplus must be given to the poor, the Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church also explained: “The Gospel shows us that we must have a spiritual attitude to the material things and to the way they are used. Today we live in a society of consume and prodigality. What remains after a meal is too quickly disposed of; some people have plenty of material things while other ones are starving. The Gospel teaches us that any crumb of bread must be saved, kept, and used so as to be useful to other people too. We also learn from today’s Gospel that the place in the nature where we have meals must be cleaned afterwards, not soiled, left full of leftovers which do not bedeck but disfigure this place. There is a certain resemblance between the wonder of the multiplication of the five loaves of bread and two fish and the Holy Eucharist, although the multiplication of the bread has not marked the Holy Eucharist directly, because they have not been turned into the Body and Blood of the Saviour, but these five loaves of bread multiplied show, just like the Holy Eucharist, the infinite eternal love of Christ for the humans”.
His Beatitude has also addressed some advice to the Romanians living abroad: “Today too, our Church remembers with much joy and fraternal love all the Romanians who live abroad, either for studying or for working. The Holy Synod called and instituted this Sunday, the closest to the feast of the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God, as the Sunday of the Immigrant Romanians. This Sunday we convey words and gestures of appreciation to all the Romanians who live abroad who often come to the country to meet their families, relatives and close friends. We wish everybody good health and salvation, peace and joy and urge the Orthodox Romanians who live abroad to keep and cultivate the Orthodox faith, our Romanian spirituality and identity and to cultivate the fraternal communion and inter-aid which will bring them much joy and light in their souls, and to show our dignity of Christian people used to the kindness, hospitality, and love for Christ and for their fellow beings for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity and our salvation. Amen!
Next Sunday the Orthodox Church will be on the 19th Sunday after the Pentecost.