Laetare (Lent 4) 2014
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
March 30, 2014
Central Passage
John 6:1-15

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

On one occasion the disciples were crossing the sea and they had forgotten to take bread and had only one loaf with them. And Jesus cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of the Herodians.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Having eyes do you not see and having ears do you not hear? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” (Mark 8:14-21)

It is true what the ancients say: our belly is our god. That is why the Christians fast; to starve the false god and feed on the one true God, who is Jesus Christ, our Lord. For He gives us true food and true drink, not of this earth but of the heavenly places come down for our salvation and preservation.

You know well the sin of that crowd of 5,000. They wanted to make Jesus king because He filled their bellies. He says as much to them when they chase Him down the next day. “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” Then He warns them: “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (6:25-27) This food, as He goes on to explain for the rest of chapter six, is His body and blood. Whoever eats of this bread and drinks of this cup has life in them.

The only temptation there is, is the temptation to worship the creature rather than the Creator. When we worship the creature, we worship ourselves and serve only ourselves, looking always and only for what will satisfy us, what will fill our bellies and give us rest from toil and trouble. Just like the disciples in that boat with only one loaf of bread, or like the crowd of the 5,000 who wanted only to fill their bellies. All of us to a one naturally serve ourselves because sin has turned us inward so that we are consumed with thoughts of ourselves.

That’s why we are so proud of the American Dream. It’s all about us. It gives us what we want, all that we desire. It fills our heats with longing for more and better; even for peace and contentment. But it’s a lie. The American Dream is a farce; an ancient temptation wrapped in iPhones and two-car garages. The American Dream is to us what Egypt was to the Israelites: a snare and a trap. We make it our god because it promises to fill our bellies and our wallets. It promises to give us well-like children and good social friends. It promises to store up for us money for retirement and money for our passions, promising us a life largely free from trouble; we never have to worry, as those poor disciples did, that we only have one loaf of bread.

Be satisfied. Today the Lord provides enough, even more than enough. Tomorrow He will do the same. But He will do it tomorrow for tomorrow and today for today.

For the true food that satisfies is not earthly food but the Bread of Heaven. You feed on this bread when you feed on the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Bread that comes down from heaven and covers the whole earth, like the Manna prophesied. He covers the whole earth and there is an abundance. He does not give out skimpy portions of Himself, but lavishes you with great quantities so that you can eat and drink until you are satisfied and there will still be more than enough for the rest of all humanity. A crowd quite larger than a mere 5,000.

But we don’t eat this bread with our mouths, but with our ears. Even as we eat the bread that is for us the Body of Christ in the Sacrament, we are still eating with ears so that we hear the words of our Lord, “This is my body, which is given for you…this is my blood, which is poured out for you.” So that those that eat without hearing Christ profane His name. It is the way of the kingdom of heaven that the blind see, the lame walk, that sinners are made righteous and the fallen are raised up and the homeless find rest, and it is the way of the kingdom that we eat not with our mouths but with our ears. For food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, and both will perish. But the body is more than food.

So our Lord warned the disciples, “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and the Herodians.” Do not listen to them. Do not feast on their lies. In our day, the Pharisees and the Herodians are not religious leaders as we might think of religious leaders. They are called today the American Dream and the Future, and their prophets use Jesus like the crowd that ate the loaves and fish: just to satisfy their greed and gluttony. But in truth they preach the god named “Happiness” and the god name “Feel Good” or even the god called “Enough”.  Politicians build their platforms on these gods and the crowds that they feed. And like the crowd that wanted a vending machine god that fed them from a few loaves of bread and some small fish, the crowds today will follow anyone that fills their bellies if only for an hour. They do not preach the living Christ. Do not listen to them. They will lay heavy burdens on you so that you are crushed under their weight.

Instead, listen to the one who gives food to the young ravens that cry and that finds the sparrow a home. His mercies are new every morning, like the Manna fresh every morning. The Lord will provide. But more than that, the Lord will save you from death and hell. He is the living bread that came down from heaven. All that eat of this bread will life forever. And the bread that He gives for the life of the world is His flesh. (John 6:50-51)

+ In Nomine Iesu +