While Adam from the Book of Genesis was intended to be a perfect man, he sinned by trying to add to himself against the will of God, consuming the forbidden fruit. Jesus, conversely, divided himself and can be referred to as the “new Adam” modeling what a perfect human being truly ought to do. In ourselves is the old Adam, and we are called to put on the new Adam:
“Paul urges us to crucify the old man, Adam, who lives on in our fallen nature and inclines us toward evil, and to conform our lives to the new Adam, Jesus Christ, who draws us toward greater and greater sanctity.”—Scott Hahn & Curtis Mitch, The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament
The Gospels paint a beautiful picture of Christ’s earthly life, a life full of relentless self-sacrifice. He was not self-seeking, but rather completely divided himself among those around him, culminating in his Passion. The feeding of the five thousand was one such symbol of this unmerited, self-dividing, self-giving love.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish [Jesus] looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.—Mark 6:41-44 (RSV2CE)
In a symbolic gesture, Jesus didn’t distribute the bread himself, but rather through his disciples. He is the source, the self-dividing Bread of Life, and he can certainly distribute himself to others. Yet, in his love he wants us to participate in his will by distributing him to the spiritually hungry. This is a deliberate effort that necessitates a division of ourselves, as sharing the message of Christ takes time and effort.
We must commit to a persistent, lifelong effort to joyfully self-divide, molting the burdensome layers of greed, vanity, and pride until we resemble a true human being, fully alive, shining in the likeness of our savior Jesus Christ.
How can we divide and share what we have? I wrote a blog post with some ideas about what and how to donate: How Much Should I Donate?