1 Kings 12:26-32, 13:33-34
Then Jeroboam said to himself, “Now the kingdom may well revert to the house of David. If this people continues to go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, the heart of this people will turn again to their master, King Rehoboam of Judah; they will kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.” So the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold. He said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one at Bethel and before the other as far as Dan. He also made houses on high places, and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not Levites. Jeroboam appointed a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the festival that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar; so he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made.
Even after this event Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people; any who wanted to be priests he consecrated for the high places. This matter became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth.
Psalm 106: 6-7, 19-22
Both we and our ancestors have sinned;
we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.
Our ancestors, when they were in Egypt,
did not consider your wonderful works;
They made a calf at Horeb
and worshiped a cast image.
They exchanged the glory of God
for the image of an ox that eats grass.
They forgot God, their Savior,
who had done great things in Egypt,
wondrous works in the land of Ham,
and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion 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 faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
In the readings, we see Jeroboam setting up golden calves as gods for the people to worship juxtaposed with Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes for the crowd that followed him. In the first reading, Jeroboam and the people forsake God to worship the image of something used for food and their livelihood. This is a great sin and God cuts off Jeroboam’s house and destroys it from the face of the earth. In the gospel, the people following Jesus forsake their livelihoods and sustenance for the chance to follow Jesus and hear his words. In turn, Jesus miraculously provides for their need for food, showing once again that he is God.
When we make Jesus our number one priority, he will always take care of everything else. While God does not call us to be imprudent and purposely not take care of our needs, he doesn’t want us to place the importance of our worldly needs over the importance of relying on him. Food, shelter, clothing, income, etc. all have their importance in our lives, but when we put our focus on providing those things first, we place our trust not in Jesus, but in fear. The people in the gospel showed radical trust in Jesus when they had followed him out to the desert and stayed with him for three days. They were not concerned with their everyday or bodily needs but knew they needed and desired Jesus more.
Jesus met the needs of the people in the gospel with the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, but he goes farther than that. Jesus gives himself to us as food in the Eucharist. He not only gives us food but gives himself as food. Without food, we cannot live in this life. Without Jesus, we cannot live in the next.
What are your top priorities in life? Is it your job, or family, or everyday needs? Is there anything you put in a higher place than God? Today, meditate on the people in the gospel and how they placed listening to Jesus first in their lives. Spend some time in prayer listening to the voice of Jesus and ask him to help you keep him first in your life and trust him with all the rest.