Acts 6:1-7; Ps 33:1,2,4,5,18,19; Jn 6:16-21: Neither famine nor death causes fear in the heart of those who hope for the Lord’s kindness. For those who fear the Lord, and for those who live in awe of God, dying and starving cause no fear. The deacons who were called forth by the apostles and the Holy Spirit provided daily food for the Greek widows in the Jerusalem community. Those closest to Jesus, who is the new Moses, grow in faith after another miracle that they witness on the sea, and they are delivered from death. The eyes of the Lord are upon us; indeed, we know he is near, whenever we hope in his kindness even though we may be afraid of famine or death.
There was no famine for the Greek-speaking widows, but they felt that they were not getting as much food as the Hebrew-speaking widows. The Twelve prayed and discerned that their ministry of prayer and preaching would not be neglected, even though the widows felt neglected. They discerned and proposed to the community that deacons be called into ministry to care for all the details of hospitality within the church. Faith and the Holy Spirit must be evident in the lives of those who serve even at table. Today’s deacons are called serve at the table of the Lord and nourish the church with their preaching. We who fear the Lord are to be cared for by deacons who live in awe and wonder that the eyes of the Lord are upon us to deliver us.
At the end of the day, the disciples of Jesus separate from the crowds. The multitude, which came looking for signs, see the sign of multiplication of the loaves and the fish, but their faith does not grow. However, the disciples experience another miracle and their faith is deepened on the sea when Jesus approached the boat. They were afraid of the stormy winds; they were afraid of Jesus walking on the water; they were filled with fear of death. Yet, as he approached the boat Jesus called out to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” It is their reaction that reveals just how much their faith had grown. The disciples wanted to take him into the boat. The believing disciples received their Lord walking on the water. Unlike the multiplication miracle, when they could not imagine where to get enough food to provide for the multitudes, they began to believe Jesus is Lord. Finally, they came to shore and ended their journey when they recognized and welcomed the Lord. The storm is over and the journey ends after they hear the Lord Jesus cry out, “it is I; do not be afraid.” Why the sudden conversion? Perhaps these disciples were able to hear over the stormy winds the revelation present in Jesus’ words. Perhaps they were able to hear Jesus say what the Father said so long ago to the first Moses, “I AM who I AM. I am with you to deliver you.” Perhaps we too can hear the same truth in our hearts as we share the fragments of the feast on the mountainside, as we share Holy Communion. Perhaps we can hear the One who walks on water say to us, “I AM here for you; you have nothing to fear.” Indeed, we have nothing to fear because we live in awe and wonder in his sight. The Lord Jesus himself walks across all the stormy seas of our lives to enter into our boats and bring them, suddenly, to the safety of shore.