Seven Loaves

Last Updated on February 15, 2022 by GMC

“Seven Loaves”
A reflection on Mark 8:1-10
Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
©2022 by Gloria M. Chang

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, he summoned the disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.” His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?” Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied. He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also. They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets. There were about four thousand people.

He dismissed them  and got into the boat with his disciples and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

Mark 8:1-10

“Seven loaves” signifies the bread of perfection, Jesus Christ, “the living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:51). The miracle bears Eucharistic significance: “Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Throughout Scripture, seven symbolizes completion and perfection.

The sign, occurring right after the healings in the Gentile territories of Tyre, Sidon, and the Decapolis, also points to the seven nations of the Gentiles (Deuteronomy 7:1). The miracle complements the feeding of the five thousand in which twelve baskets of fragments, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel, were gathered (Mark 6:34-44). 

The magnificent feast for the four thousand, multiplied from seven loaves and a few fish, is a foretaste of the kingdom of heaven.

On this mountain the Lord of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.

Isaiah 25:6

“Fruitful groves” conjure up multiple prophetic allusions to Carmel, the orchards of Lebanon, Zion, and the heavenly Jerusalem.

In days to come Jacob shall take root,
Israel shall sprout and blossom,
covering all the world with fruit.

Isaiah 27:6

Surely, in a very little while,
Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard,
and the orchard be considered a forest!

Isaiah 29:17

Until the spirit from on high
is poured out on us.
And the wilderness becomes a garden land
and the garden land seems as common as forest.

Isaiah 32:15

You shall again plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria;
those who plant them shall enjoy their fruits.

Jeremiah 31:5

Along each bank of the river every kind of fruit tree will grow; their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fresh fruit because the waters of the river flow out from the sanctuary. Their fruit is used for food, and their leaves for healing.

Ezekiel 47:12

For there will be a sowing of peace: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its crops, and the heavens will yield their dew. I will give all these things to the remnant of this people to possess.

Zechariah 8:12

Jesus fed a crowd with seven loaves,
Heralding the kingdom’s fruitful groves.

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