When I was a child, having grown up in an industrial rather than
agricultural town, I always thought that yoke in the scriptures had to do
with the center of the egg. In fact some of my fondest childhood memories
are of waking up in the morning and listening: was the spattering sound I
heard rain outside my window or bacon and eggs cooking downstairs in the
kitchen? My mother was most skilled at breaking eggs and preserving
the yoke—she even would spoon fat on the yoke so it would be nice and firm
when the egg was lifted out of the pan.
But the reading from Jeremiah speaks of a different yoke—one that is more
burdensome than delicious. Here the prophet Hananiah is punished for
misleading the people of Israel for announcing that the foreign yoke would
be broken when in fact the people’s chastisement had not come to an end.
Thus he raised false confidence in the people.
The gospel turns back to food—here the apostles themselves are
the pessimists bemoaning the fact that there is not enough food to be had
for all the crowd—prophets of doom as it were. The Lord does
NOT punish them for their false prophecy but rather exceeds their expectations
in performing this miracle.
I contend that this miracle takes three parties to happen: Jesus
who blesses and distributes but also the apostles who put down their doubt
and do as Jesus says and the crowd who trust and give what little they have
so that it might be blessed.
So, when we wake up in the morning we need to listen and to smell and to
be realistic. If it’s raining outside or if it’s bacon and eggs cooking
inside has to be with listening, and smelling, and walking to the window
and down in the kitchen to be sure. It might be one or the other or
both. Whether it be the rain of burden which Jeremiah assisted the
people of Israel to endure by not raising false expectations but TRUE hope
in the Lord’s mercy or the bacon and eggs of the messianic banquet where
there is always more than enough, we each have to be part of those miracles—to
carry the burned of life’s yoke as a community or to enjoy the yoke of abundant
food and blessings in the company of family and community.
Today is the feast of Peter Faber, S.J. one of Ignatius’ original companions
and founders of the Society of Jesus. He carried the burden, along
with others, of the Church’s important self-reformation work and shared the
joy of Ignatius in beginning many vibrant apostolates such as colleges in
Germany and Spain. What a perfect day for bacon and eggs – well, maybe
eggbeaters and soy!