Faith on the Mountainside

To gaze upon the grandeur of the hills and mountains at sunset. To see them at dawn and to look in awe at mountain peaks encircled by mist is to catch a glimpse of the mystery of God. This reflection is thought of a part of God’s vision. Think about some of the important moments of salvation history that have occurred on a hill or mountain.

On Mount Horeb, Moses received God’s revelation in the middle of a burning bush. On Mount Sinai, Moses received the Ten Commandments. In the Mount of Olives, after creating a new covenant at the Last Supper, Jesus traveled to the place to prepare for his upcoming death, and our longed for salvation. Throughout ancient times, peoples of all faiths have seen hills and mountains as signifying the meeting of heaven and earth.

The Gospel this weekend takes us to another hillside by the Sea of Galilee. This time while there we all experience a challenge in the person of Philip. Lots of people, who were following Jesus, gathered and were waiting. Jesus, as always was aware of their needs. They needed to be nourished. Jesus turns to Philip and asks him what they should do. Philip draws a blank, and simply responds without much thought. He responds in the negative, because he did not take the time to rely and call on his faith. He had experience with faith, as he was with Jesus.

We ask ourselves, "What exactly does faith look like?" Jesus, once again gives the answer in the person of an unnamed boy, who has five barley loaves and two fish. This boy represents all to whom Jesus had been sent to proclaim the Good News. For in giving the loaves to Jesus, the boy offers barley, the food of those who are poor. The boy is unnamed because we can place our names in the story. We must realize that we are poor and we constantly need Christ’s nourishment.

The multiplication of the loaves and fishes stirred a belief in the people that Jesus was the prophet, who was foretold by Moses and they wanted to make Jesus their king. Jesus slips away because the people did not recognize the spiritual meaning of Jesus’ actions. When the boy presented the loaves and fishes, heaven and earth met on the mountainside. From the boy’s poverty, he had faith and gave everything he had to Jesus, and Jesus transformed his offering beyond everyone’s imagination and understanding.

Jesus tells us that unless we change and become like little children we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. We might be in the neighborhood, but will never actually find the entrance. This young boy, who we are like, because we are all God’s children, shows us how to change, so that we might live forever with the Lord on his holy mountain. It is a sign both of the Eucharist and the kingdom of heaven that is looking for a place on our mountain.

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