They did not understand about the Loaves

Friends in the Lord, normally, the feast of the Epiphany would be today, but in this country it was moved to Sunday; in these days following Epiphany therefore, we have daily readings about other ‘epiphanies,’ ways in which the Lord reveals himself in sign and power.
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Yesterday was the multiplication of the few loaves to feed over 5000 people. The Church has always known this to be a sign of the Holy Eucharist, of the Mass. Miraculous bread is given to a vast crowd, just like at Mass. And notice, Our Lord does not distribute the bread; he has the apostles give it to the people, they will be his first priests.
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Today’s gospel follows that multiplication of the loaves; the apostles are in a boat, which encounters wind and trouble. They cry out for Jesus to come, and he comes into the boat with them. It says that after Jesus got into the boat, the apostles were ‘completely astounded;’ ‘they were astounded’ it says, ‘because they did not understand about the loaves.’
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So what does this mean? ‘They did not understand about the loaves?’ What does the multiplication of the loaves have to do with the boat? Well for this, we have to put on our Catholic thinking caps. When we see a boat in the scriptures we should think of – the Church. The boat is a symbol of the Church; and the sea, with it’s dangers and storms, is a symbol of evil and sin. That’s why we sometimes call the Church, the ‘Bark of Peter.’ ‘Bark is an old word for boat.
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So in St. Mark’s gospel he shows us the apostles in the boat, and we should immediately see there, Jesus’ first priests in the Church. The 12 in the boat, symbolizing the Church, are being tossed about by the wind of the world. They are afraid. They call out for help, and Christ comes into the Church.
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Does that happen now? Yes. The Church is here, we are the Bark of Peter. And daily, we call out to the Lord, amidst the storms of this world, of life, and Jesus comes into the Church – right here, in the miraculous Bread on our altar. This is what St. Mark is getting at.
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Now we can see the meaning of that final, mysterious statement. ‘They were astounded, ‘but they did not understand about the loaves. We understand. The miraculous loaves, the Eucharist – this is Christ, who comes to us here, in the storms of life, into the boat, the Church; and he says to us each time, ‘Take heart, do not be afraid.’

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