Sermon by Archbishop Andrei (Rymarenko) of Rockland (+1978)
on the 8th Sunday of Pentecost
“Give ye them to eat!” said Christ to His disciples, in response to their words, “This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.” But Christ simply told them to feed the multitudes. “How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.”
Let us imagine their situation: a great crowd of people; only counting the men, there were five thousand, plus women and children. As dusk approached, nearby shops were closing; the thousands of people were facing a hungry night in the wilderness. There were small children among them. As Christ spoke, their physical needs remained “silent,” but as He finished His sermon, they began to feel pangs of hunger. What was there to do? The people were weakening from hunger, the children would cry, and no one could find rest as a result. Bewilderment and despair began to set in, some may have grumbled. We believed in You, you came seeking the Kingdom of Heaven and Truth, so we followed You. You promised that all things would come to us, but will this promise have come to be in vain? We have no food for our children, night is coming, the dark, southern night.
We can easily imagine the plight of the disciples, their love for their Teacher inspired them to offer their advice; and when they reported on the reserves of food that they had, He commanded that they bring them, and, instructing the masses to lie on the grass in groups, He took the loaves and fishes, raised His eyes to the heavens, blessed them and broke the bread, distributing the food through His disciples. Having eaten their fill, the remaining food was collected, filling twelve baskets. What a miracle! And this is historical fact!
The power within the words of Christ: “Give ye them to eat” was overabundant to sate the hunger of thousands, and overcomes the two thousand years since, to our day.
Did these words of Christ refer only to physical food? No. All that the God-Man brought down to mankind is included in those words; the salvation of mankind, spiritual food, all the Mysteries established by the Lord, the Council of the Church of Christ, of the Apostles. The Apostles were mortal, but the Church is eternal. The Apostles would be followed by successors: deacons, priests, bishops; and so the Church is to exist eternally to feed the faithful. She will provide them with everything that they need that the world cannot give them. With the words “Give ye them to eat,” Christ commanded His Apostolic Church, and the moment He told the masses to lie on the grass, that was the great moment of the establishment of His Church on earth. Remember Holy Russia, which had been comprised of various tribes, of parishes, of communities that all flowed into one great whole, the Holy, Conciliar and Apostolic Church.
Even now, the Church of Christ exists, and shall exist until the end of time.
Let us all strive towards Her. If ever we cannot physically enter a temple for any reason, we can psychologically find ourselves within Her, always live spiritually inside the Church, and then we will obtain spiritual nourishment which leads to eternal Life. Only within the Church will we receive the Mystery of Christ, the Mystery of His Body and Blood, Which provide us with eternal life.