In yesterday’s gospel we witnessed Our Lord miraculously feed more than 5,000 hungry people. It was a miracle of compassion, not unlike the concern of the Apostles mentioned in the first reading today, but it was also much more. It was a sign of the power that Our Lord has over material elements; bread in particular, a power that he exercises in the Eucharist. Today we see Our Lord perform another miracle as he walks on water.
In the Old Testament power over water was seen as a sign of divinity. We recall the mighty power of God that parted the waters of the Red Sea for the safe passage of the Hebrews escaping bondage in Egypt. Our Lord ‘conquered’ the waters not only by walking over the waves but also by calming the storm. This miracle was another step in the gradual revelation of his true identity as the Son of God.
The multiplication of the bread and the walking on water fit together as one sign concerning the Eucharist. They show that Our Lord has the power to multiply the presence of his body under the appearance of bread. Our Lord is concerned about our physical welfare, but he is even more concerned about our spiritual welfare. These two events in Saint John’s Gospel are an invitation for us to have faith in the Eucharist, to believe that Jesus is so powerful that he can nourish us with his Body and Blood; and that he loves us so much that he is eager to give us the gift of himself in this most extraordinary way.