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Multiplication of the loaves

Gospel Reading: Jn 6:1-15
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near.

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?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”

Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

The Gospel tells about the feeding of the five thousand along the shore of the Sea of Tiberias. This story is also narrated in Mt 14:13-21, Mk 6:30-44, and Lk 9:10-17, but only John mentions that there is a great deal of grass in the place. It is also proper to John that it is Jesus himself who distributes the loaves to those who are reclining, and also as much of the fish as they want. In the Synoptic gospels (Mt 14:19; Mk 6:41; Lk 9:16), it is the disciples themselves who distribute the loaves and fish to the people.

One significant literary characteristic in John is its use of symbolic language. It is obvious that along the sea there is a great deal of sand, not grass. This is particularly true of the Sea of Tiberias. Green grass signifies life; a great deal of grass means abundant life.

The feeding of the five thousand is a concrete illustration that Jesus gives abundant life, not only physical but, above all, eternal life.

The Gospel invites us to promote, nourish, and defend life and, most of all, to seek eternal life.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.