Seventh Sunday after Trinity
John Chrysotom on the Gospel
Sevent Sunday after Trinity Home
LORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I have compassion on the multitude
Hosea xiv, Psalm viii, Romans vi. 19 & St. Mark viii. 1
On the parallel Gospel according to Matthew xv. 32
I have compassion, and will not send them away fasting.”
For lest they should say that they came having provisions for the way, He saith, “They continue with me now three days;” so that even if they came having any, it is all spent. For therefore He Himself did not this on the first and second day, but when all had been consumed by them, in order that having first been in want, they might more eagerly accept His work.
Therefore He saith, “Lest they faint in the way;” implying both their distance to be great, and that they had nothing left.
“Then, if thou art not willing to send them away fasting, wherefore dost thou not work the miracle?” That by this question and by their answer He might make the disciples more heedful, and that they might show forth their faith, coming unto Him, and saying, “Make loaves.”
But not even so did they understand the motive of His question; wherefore afterwards He saith to them, as Mark relates, “Are your hearts so hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not?”
Since, if this were not so, wherefore doth He speak to the disciples, and signify the multitude’s worthiness to receive a benefit, and add also the pity He Himself feels?
But Matthew saith, that after this He also rebuked them, saying, “O ye of little faith, do ye not yet understand, nor remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? nor the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?” So completely do the evangelists harmonize one with another.
What then say the disciples? Still they creep on the ground, although He had done so very many things in order that that miracle might be kept in memory; as by His question, and by the answer, and by making them minister herein, and by distributing the baskets; but their state of mind was yet rather imperfect.
Wherefore also they say to Him, “Whence should we have so many loaves in the wilderness?”
Both before this, and now, they make mention of the wilderness; themselves in a weak way of argument so speaking, yet even hereby putting the miracle above suspicion. That is, lest any should affirm (as I have indeed already said), that they obtained it from some neighboring village, the place is acknowledged, that the miracle may be believed. With this view, both the former miracle and this He works in a wilderness, at a great distance from the villages.
The disciples, considering none of all this, said, “Whence should we have so many loaves in a wilderness?” For they thought verily He had said it as purposing next to enjoin them to feed the people; most foolishly; since with this intent He had said, and that lately, “Give ye them to eat,” that He might bring them to an urgent need of entreating Him.
But now He saith not this, “Give ye them to eat,” but what? “I have compassion on them, and will not send them away fasting;” bringing the disciples nearer, and provoking them more, and granting them clearer sight, to ask these things of Him. For in truth they were the words of one signifying that He hath power not to send them away fasting; of one manifesting His authority. For the expression, “I will not,” implies such a purpose in Him.
2. Since however they still spake of the multitude merely, and the place, and the wilderness (for “whence,” it is said, “should we have in a wilderness so many loaves, as to fill so great a multitude”?); and not even so understood what He said, He proceeds to contribute His own part, and saith unto them,
“How many loaves have ye? And they say, Seven, and a few little fishes.”
And they no more say, “But what are these among so many?” as they had said before. So that although they reached not His whole meaning, yet nevertheless they became higher by degrees. For so He too, arousing their mind hereby, puts the question much as He had done before, that by the very form of the inquiry He might remind them of the works already done.
But as thou hast seen their imperfection hereby, so do thou observe the severity of their spirit, and admire their love of truth, how, writing themselves, they conceal not their own defects, great as they were. For it was no small blame to have presently forgotten this miracle, which had so recently taken place; wherefore they are also rebuked.
And herewith consider also their strictness in another matter, how they were conquerors of their appetite; how disciplined to make little account of their diet. For being in the wilderness and abiding there three days, they had seven loaves.
Now all the rest He doth as on the former occasion; thus He both makes them sit down on the ground, and He makes the loaves multiply themselves in the hands of the disciples.
For, “He commanded,” it is said, “the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves, and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.”
But when we come to the end, there is a difference.
For, “they did all eat,” so it is said, “and were filled, and they took up of the broken meat that was left, seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, besides women and children.”
But why at the former time, when there were five thousand, did twelve baskets full remain over and above, whereas here, when there were four thousand, it was seven baskets full? For what purpose, I say, and by what cause, were the remnants less, the guests not being so many?
Either then one may say this, that the baskets on this last occasion were greater than those used before, or if this were not so, lest the equality of the miracle should again cast them into forgetfulness, He rouses their recollection by the difference, that by the variation they might be reminded of both one and the other. Accordingly, in that case, He makes the baskets full of fragments equal in number to His disciples, in this, the other baskets equal to the loaves; indicating even hereby His unspeakable power, and the ease wherewith He exercised His authority, in that it was possible for Him to work such miracles, both in this way and in the other. For neither was it of small power, to maintain the exact number, both then and now; then when there were five thousand, now when there were four thousand; and not suffer the remnants to be more than the baskets used on the one occasion or on the other, although the number of the guests was different.
And the end again was like the former. For as then He left the multitude and withdrew in a ship, so also now; and John also saith this. For since no sign did so work upon them to follow Him, as the miracle of the loaves; and they were minded not only to follow Him, but also to make Him a king; avoiding all suspicion of usurping royalty, He hastens away after this work of wonder: and He doth not even go away afoot, lest they should follow Him, but by entering into a ship.
Romans vi. 19I SPEAK after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
St. Mark viii. 1IN those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.
Scripture from 1928 Book of Common Prayer