The story of Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves is the most important miracle in the New Testament. It is the only one described in all four Gospels.
We have heard it a hundred times. So, I would like to speak instead about an important story from the Old Testament. It is the story of how God entered into a covenant with the people of Israel. We read it in Chapter 24 of the Book of Exodus.
This summer for our weekday Masses, we have been going a chapter at a time trough the Book of Exodus, and we have been building up toward this all-important Chapter 24; but something happened. When we were to come to it yesterday, we instead, on July 25, came to the Feast of the Apostle James. It had its own reading about apostles, so we had to skip Chapter 24 this year. I don’t wanna.
Let’s slip it in here. A covenant is a solemn contract in which the parties actually give themselves to each other. Marriage is the one covenant with which we are familiar. Moses arranged a primitive ceremony for Yahweh, to become the Israelite’s God, and for the Israelites to become Yahweh’s people.
First, at the foot of Mount Sinai, he had the young men build an altar to represent God. Then, he had all the people assembled before the altar and Mount Sinai. Next he had young men slaughter bulls, collecting the blood in large brass bowls.
Then, since exchanging promises to be true is a big part of a covenant, like with marriage; Moses called out each of the Ten Commandments, and the people shouted they would keep it, remaining true to God.
Now, the Israelites believed that blood was life itself, so Moses had the young men with the brass bowls of blood, go through the crowd, sprinkling each person with blood, and poring the last drops on God’s altar. Having the same blood, they became one with each other, and one with God.
When Jesus initiated the New Covenant at the Last Supper, he said, “This is the chalice of my blood of the New and everlasting Covenant.”