It was a horrific death, sanctioned by the State, carried out by narcissists:
When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist’s death he withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves (Matthew 14).
Death is a dreadful affair. It is a great separator, patterned after sin itself:
It is in regard to death that our condition is most shrouded in doubt. In a sense bodily death is natural, but for faith it is in fact ‘the wages of sin’ (CCC 1006).
But death also unites. The twelve stick together and the crowd flocks to Jesus.
Therein he discloses a ritual to help us interpret death and all manner of things that human ingenuity can’t deal with:
Jesus took the loaves, he blessed them, he broke them, and he gave them.
What we cannot do, what we cannot deal with, Jesus can.
Notice the language of the Last Supper (Matthew 26):
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat, this is my body.’
What was done in the ritual form in the miracle of the loaves and fishes and at the Last Supper is fulfilled by Jesus in his death and resurrection:
Jesus is taken, blessed, broken and given for us.
We rightly intuit that Jesus is asking something of us.
We are a Eucharistic People are we not?
At the Eucharist, we rightly pray for many things, but ‘there is one thing necessary’ (Luke 10):
‘Holy Spirit,’ we pray, ‘grant us this grace: that we would let ourselves be taken, blessed, broken and given for others.’
In this way, we choose ‘the good portion’ (Luke 10).