Gospel: Mt 14:13-21
When Jesus hear of it, he set out by boat for a secluded place, to be alone. But the people heard of it, and they followed him on foot from their towns. When Jesus went ashore, he saw the crowd gathered there, and he had compassion on them. And he healed their sick. Late in the afternoon, his disciples came to him and said, “We are in a lonely place and it is now late. You should send these people away, so that they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes.” Jesus said to them, “Bring them here to me.” Then he made everyone sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fishes, raised his eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to the disciples to distribute to the people. And they all ate, and everyone had enough; then the disciples gathered up the leftovers, filling twelve baskets. About five thousand men had eaten there, besides women and children.
“He had compassion on them.” It was compassion (mercy) that moved Jesus to forego his own needs so that he can teach the people, feed them and heal their infirmities. He desired that the disciples have the same attitude when he commanded them, “you give them something to eat.” He did not accept their practical solution to simply send the people away and have them look for their own food. A compassionate person would not run away from responsibility or getting personally involved in looking for solutions to problems.
One alibi that people come up with to avoid getting personally involved in helping others is that they hardly have enough. They rationalize their unwillingness to help by saying it is not their fault that some people are starving. Jesus does not accept this line of reasoning. With the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes he taught the disciples that “little becomes much when you generously share and joyfully place them in the Master’s hands.”
The feeding of the more than five thousand people is an image of the kingdom of God. Everyone is called to partake of the banquet and it is for free. Everyone is called to share whatever little he or she has, place it in the hands of Jesus. He in turn will bless what is shared and will see to it that everybody’s needs are met. And there will still be plenty of leftovers.