Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT, 1941.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The Gospel for today records Our Lord's miraculous feeding of the five thousand. Our Lord had been for about two weeks preaching and healing the sick. He had gone with the Apostles up into a mountain to be alone with them and to rest, to be in retreat as we would say. But the multitude followed them. The multitude had brought no food with them. Our Lord lifted up His eyes, and saw-them, and had compassion upon them and miraculously fed them.
The four Evangelists record the details of this miracle. It was a physical miracle. There is nothing in nature to explain it. It was wholly supernatural. It was an act of God. It was a sign that God can do what He wills with what He has created. His laws for government of His creations are His own. His powers over nature are His own.
No laws of nature, no natural powers, nor combination of natural powers known to us can explain it. The laws of His natural world had been set aside to make way for the operation of supernatural laws. The forces of the natural world gave way to the forces of the supernatural world. All power in heaven and earth was in the possession of Our Lord, to exercise as He would.
The first lesson impressed upon us by this miracle is that Christians must remember that they live in a supernatural world which interpenetrates the natural world in which their ordinary lives are lived. Therefore miracles are to be expected in whatever age they live and under whatever circumstances.
The Christian Religion is a religion of miracles. It begins with the Virgin Birth of Our Lord. It reaches its climax in His Resurrection. It flashes the signals of God in all the miracles that mark the way from the Manger to the Garden. It illuminates earth and Heaven in His glorious Ascension that we may in heart and mind thither ascend, and with Him continually dwell.
The second lesson is impressed upon us when we read the Sixth Chapter of Saint John's Gospel. After recording the miraculous feeding of the bodies of the multitude we have the record, in Our Lord's own words, of God's plan for the miraculous feeding of the souls of Christians.
"Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. I am that bread of life. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Where and when and how shall we find this Bread, that we may eat and live forever? "In the night in which he was betrayed, he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, `Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of me.' Likewise, after supper, he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, `Drink ye all of this; for this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins; Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it in remembrance of me'."
Now see a congregation of modern Christians. Like the multitude in the Gospel they have followed Our Lord to the mountain of refreshment. Each has need of spiritual refreshment. Our Lord speaks, "Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you."
Now see the Communicants kneeling at the rail and waiting to receive the Heavenly Food. "The Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life." "The Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life."
See this and you will have seen the substance of which the miracle on the mountain was the shadow.
Affectionately in Our Lord,