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.” He 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. (Matthew 14:13-21)
Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospel accounts. Perhaps it’s because each Gospel writer was so moved by what they saw and heard on that day.
In the final analysis, its not about the miracle itself. It’s what the miracle can do for us if we choose to accept it.
Jesus’ visceral compassion led him to teach, to heal, to feed, to forgive, and to pray for, call and send out laborers with the same compassion on the crowds. He wants to transform us by that mercy to see things with the eyes of his own bursting heart, to notice how many are wandering without direction in life and teach them the truth and instruct them how to live by following Jesus the Way.
He wants us to see how many are suffering physically, psychologically and spiritually and seek to become nurses of the Divine Physician. He wants us to notice the multitudes starving physically or spiritually and to give them the nourishment they need. He wants us to see how many are carrying around the wounds of expiated guilt or severed revelations and to bring them God’s mercy and to God’s mercy. In all of this, he wants us to become hard workers, not just bodies, in his fields and to pray insistently for other diligent laborers to join us in becoming the compassionate upset stomach of the Mystical Body of Christ.
So, you know that, right? So, what’s the point?
Its all about transformation. The more we act in the way of Jesus Christ, the more we change. In that transformation, there is an even greater miracle. We begin to see the face of Jesus. God gave us His Son so that we could see him. See him in his actions, feel him in his example, know him in our personal life.
We look to God to give us the food we need in each season of our life. We open our hands to receive what he opens his hands to give us, as he seeks to satiate our deepest desires.
Paradoxically we go into the desert to have our thirst quenched. Jesus knows that for each of us life can become so busy, people can sometimes be coming and going in such great numbers, that we don’t have time for the most important things, not to mention “even to eat.” And so, Jesus calls us apart from everyone else not merely so that we can physically rest and eat, but so that he can give us spiritual rest — through yoking ourselves to him anew — and spiritual food.
In the words of the Prophet Isaiah, Jesus in daily prayer and on retreat tells us, “Come, receive grain and eat.… Come, drink wine and milk!” He beckons us, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water!” He desires to give us this nourishment “without paying and without cost.”
In all of that lies the miracle of Jesus Christ. To come to us, to be there always so we can feel his love for us, to remind us that we are never alone, to ask us to act in his name. The more we do in His name, the more we change. We lead with compassion, not judgement. We give to help not for recognition. We follow him and live our lives each day doing our best to model his words.
As we do all of that, we are drawn closer and closer to him. The closer we become to him, the more we experience his presence and see his face.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, you satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts and you feed us with the finest of wheat (Psalm 81:16). Fill me with gratitude for your blessings and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me.”
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 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.