( A commentary on John 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. (John 16:1-15)
The miracle of the loaves and fishes is the only one that is mentioned by all four gospel writers. That does not make it more significant but it does speak to the universal lesson it teaches us.
It’s easy to say that the feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us.
Yet, it also speaks to the human condition and that includes you and me.
Every one of us hungers. Every one of us seeks for something that will nourish us. We hunger for affection, for relationships, for real things. We are born with a natural instinct that reaches out for sustenance; it is a survival instinct, a drive to live.
When you’re hungry, the first thing you think of is yourself. It can be very difficult to stop and think about the hunger that others feel. Jesus asks us to de-center ourselves, to stop being so self-centered. He proposes that we stop focusing on our own hunger.
Philip and Andrew reacted to this proposal by defending themselves with common sense and the logic of the economy.
Jesus asks us to go beyond this logic, to a logic of simply giving. The miracle occurs only when the disciples are willing to abandon the thought of what they possessed and trust in Jesus.
Philip and Andrew’s hunger is satiated at the very moment that they concern themselves with satiating the hunger of those around them and sharing what they have. Centering our attention only on our needs never helps us resolve our problems. He asks us to trust in him.
When life is like a desert without hope, Jesus revives us.
Jesus Christ wants to be our partner in life, our companion; our confidant. He is looking out for us, always keeping his eyes open for an opportunity to feed our hungry hearts with his beauty and truth. He wants to supply for our needs; it is his greatest joy. As he puts it later in this same Gospel, “I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you satisfy the deepest longing of our heart and you feed us with the finest of wheat. Fill me with gratitude and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me.”
We only have five loaves and two fish; by ourselves we can do nothing. Only if we put all we have into Christ’s hands, trusting in him and not ourselves, can we hope to make a real difference for the good of the Kingdom – in our hearts and in society at large.