Home » Opinion » Multiplication of the loaves

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.

Reflection: From five loaves and two fish

One of the things we notice about the ministry of Jesus and his disciples is the seeming lack of “planning” in terms of anticipating the needs of the situations they will be in. On the other hand, how can they when they are poor “missionaries,” relying only on divine providence? Besides – and this is the most important reason – Jesus is with them.

The miracle story in the Gospel reminds us of a number of things. First, the crowd of people are hungry for both material and spiritual food. That is why they keep on following Jesus because they see and know that Jesus has both material and spiritual food to nourish them, although perhaps, as Jesus will remind them later, many of them are simply after the material food.

Second, in the midst of the seeming impossibility of feeding the huge crowd “stranded” with them, a boy is “moved” to offer some provision that then becomes the springboard for Jesus’ miraculous intervention. His contribution is very insignificant compared to the mouths that have to be fed (“just a drop in the ocean,” as St. Teresa of Kolkata puts it). But, in the eyes of faith, this is like lighting one candle instead of cursing the darkness. At least he provides some hope in the midst of utter despair.

Which brings us to the third point: God transforms the little that the people have into abundance as the little passes on to the hands of Jesus who takes it, blesses it, and breaks it to be distributed to the people who are now well-seated on the ground. As God did not allow the Israelites to die of hunger in the desert, so also now, through his Son, God rescues the hungry crowd from death and feeds them beyond their needs.

In our work and ministry, may we learn to trust in the power of Jesus to come to our rescue; after all, he is not “Jesus” (“The Lord saves”) for nothing. We may not have that much, but he will not fail us; in fact, he will surely surprise us with abundance.

* * *

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

comments