1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased. 3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" 6 This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, 9 "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?" 10 Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost." 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!" 15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
Meditation: Can anything on this earth truly satisfy the
deepest longing and hunger we experience for God? A great
multitude had gathered to hear Jesus, no doubt because they were
hungry for the word of life. Jesus' disciples wanted to send them
away at the end of the day because they did not have the resources
to feed them. They even complained how much money it would take to
feed such a large crowd - at least six month's wages! Jesus, the Bread
of Life, took the little they had - five loaves and two fish
- and giving thanks to his heavenly Father, distributed to all
until they were satisfied of their hunger.
Jesus is the true bread from heaven that gives us abundant life
The people of Israel had been waiting for the prophet whom Moses had promised: The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren - him shall you heed (Deuteronomy 18:15). The signs which Jesus did, including the miraculous feeding of the five thousand signified that God has indeed sent him as the anointed Prophet and King. Jesus' feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle that is repeated in all four Gospel accounts. What is the significance of this particular miracle? The miraculous feeding of such a great multitude pointed to God's provision of manna in the wilderness for the people of Israel under Moses' leadership (Exodus 16). This daily provision of food in the barren wilderness foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would offer his followers.
The food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ
Jesus makes a claim which only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. The sign of the multiplication of the loaves when the Lord says the blessing, breaks, and distributes through his disciples prefigures the superabundance of the unique bread of his Eucharist or Lord's Supper. When we receive from the Lord's table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the "one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ" (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward.
When you approach the Table of the Lord, what do you expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for your soul? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist at the Lord's Table is an intimate union with Jesus Christ, our Divine Healer and Savior. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Do you hunger for the "bread of life"?
The Lord alone can satisfy the deepest longing of our heart
The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves so that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others. Do you trust in God's provision for you and do you share freely with others, especially those who are in need?
Psalm 27:1-4, 11-14
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me, uttering slanders against me, my adversaries and foes, they shall stumble and fall.
3 Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD; and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD!
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: God enables us, by Leo the Great, 400-461 A.D.
"In rendering service to the grace of God, we are not only made
subject to our King through obedience but are even joined to him
through the will. If we are of one mind with him (willing what he
wills, disapproving of what he disapproves), he himself will bring
us victory in all our battles. He who has given the 'will' will
bestow also the ability. In this way can we 'cooperate' with his
works, speaking that prophetic utterance in the exultation of
faith: 'The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I
fear? The Lord is the defender of my life. Of whom shall I be
afraid?'" (excerpt from Sermon 26,4,2)