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The feeding of the five thousand

 

GOSPEL: MT 14:13-21

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WHEN Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over – twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

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Grief and sadness overwhelm us when someone dear to us passes away. When John the Baptist is beheaded, Jesus wants to withdraw by himself to a lonely place. He needs time and space to grieve over his cousin’s death. John is not only Jesus’ cousin but also his herald. With the passing of John, Jesus realizes that he is crossing the Rubicon and that his mission to inaugurate God’s Kingdom on earth is already on full throttle.

Jesus’ time of solitude is cut short by the crowds that trail him, bringing their sick. Jesus does not insist on a very legitimate human need for bereavement but instead turns his attention selflessly to the throng that has formed around him. He is their Good Shepherd whose heart, filled with compassion, goes out to them. He patiently attends to the needs of everyone, easing their pain and restoring them to health.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2020,” 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.

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