Jesus raised his eyes and saw a large crowd

Jn 6:5 When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”[1]

I am always puzzled why John and the Holy Spirit thought it important to mentioned that Jesus raised his eyes. John’s not that sloppy, not that offhanded, not that nonchalant about his phrasing. He is very meticulous about details, e.g. His consciousness of time and geographical location are very precise. And we know the Spirit does nothing that is not foreseen, that is not Providential, that is not fraught with the purpose of bringing us to know Jesus, to faith…

So why the phrase? Perhaps it is because it is the first bookend of a pair, a literary technique with which John is replete. The second instance occurs near the end of His priestly prayer, shortly before his arrest. When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. [Jn 17: 1-3]. Whether or not it is within a chaism is perhaps something to be explored. But, on the face of it, John and the Spirit achieve the same purpose, each use of the phrase to enhance and reveal hidden depths in the other; the crowd prefigure all people, so that He may give eternal life to all. Your hour, for this crowd in this place at this time, has indeed come. The multiplication of the loaves and fishes will indeed give You glory, such that they will want to crown You king.

But perhaps You, John and the Spirit are also conspiring [a communal in-spiring] to get me to lift up my eyes and see the crowd, to lift up my eyes to heaven and acknowledge God. Driving while intexticated caused 21% or 1.3 million crashes in 2011. Maybe, just maybe, my android is not where the it’s at. It certainly takes us “far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife”…but is that a good place to be? Will my next app enable me to see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink:…see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you:…see you ill or in prison, and visit you? [Mt 25:37-39]

Will my children, my family, my friends, strangers, feel inhibited about “interrupting me”…He’s busy…as I thumb and finger my way through another app. Will Jesus become indignant and said to [me], “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. [Mk 10:14]

Will I be the priest or Levite who passed by on the opposite side [Lk 10:31-32], or will I be the humble Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight? [Lk 10:33] I can’t be moved with compassion without raising my eyes and seeing the large crowd was coming to me in my daily life, in walking down the street, in the supermarket and parking lot, in the cashier’s line and at Starbucks, in the shopping mall and McDonalds, at the beach, the bleachers, the stadium, the concert hall, the board room, the town meeting, the library, even in Church! When I, in my righteous indignation, ask You: And who is my neighbor? You’ve got a lot of answers…Lord, help me to lift up my eyes to see with You the maddening, the wonderful, the confusing, the comforting, the unholy and the holy crowd of Your creation, Your people, Your family, …my family. Amen. Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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