Written by Dave Rempel
Sixteen stained glass windows adorn the sides of the worship space at Ascension. Inspiration for the windows was taken from the fact that in Europe long ago, the faithful would learn the Bible from stories depicted in windows. It was intended that Ascension’s windows could be similarly educational. What follows is a meditation on one of the 16 windows. Look for additional reflections in future editions of the Bulletin or on this Parish Blog.
The Multiplication of Loaves and Fish
There is a lad here who has five loaves and two fish… Jesus gave thanks… Gathered up twelve baskets full of pieces left over. (John 6:9, 11, 13)
Foreshadowing His institution of the Eucharist (by which Jesus feeds us every day), this account from John shows Jesus feeding a large crowd with a trivial amount of food. In this window’s depiction, Jesus is shown blessing the food and giving thanks, using the Trinitarian, three-fingered benediction used in some of the other windows. The placement of His left hand suggests that He is also blessing the boy kneeling before Him. Like the widow who contributed her only two coins to the temple treasury, the boy has humbly offered all he has to this cause.
The empty baskets (which would later teem with the leftovers) and the harsh, rocky landscape suggest a bleak situation, but the message is that God will always provide. Note, however, that Jesus did not simply conjure food; rather, He turned to the disciples and the boy to feed the people. Again, as suggested in the case of the paralytic, we all share the responsibility for our neighbors’ well-being, and if we give what little we have, God will make it enough.
Finally, Philip and Andrew, the two disciples who conversed with Jesus in this narrative, appear skeptical that so little food will make a difference. Or perhaps they are meant to look abashed, as they failed the “test” set by Jesus, who had asked them about feeding the entire crowd. Would we pass such a test of faith in God?