After this, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed him, because of the miraculous signs they saw, when he healed the sick. So he went up into the hills and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.
Then lifting up his eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to him, and said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?” He said this to test Philip, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece.”
Then one of Jesus’ disciples Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there, so the people, about five thousand men, sat down. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish, and gave them as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten enough, he told his disciples, “Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost.”
So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is, with pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
When the people saw the miracle which Jesus had performed, they said, “This is really the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Jesus realized that they would come and take him by force to make him king; so he fled to the hills by himself.
Obviously today’s gospel reading on the feeding of a large crowd by a miraculous multiplication of bread is a symbolic anticipation of the gift of the Eucharist, by which God feeds his people with the Body of his Son until the end of time, when we will all celebrate our loving God in the heavenly banquet.
Let us look at a few interesting details of this narrative. The question Jesus asks Philip betrays Jesus’ sense of humor. He is clearly teasing Philip and having fun at his expense. We rarely imagine a fun-loving Jesus or even a laughing Jesus. Yet, there are entire books written about his sense of humor…
As to the boy who provided the five loaves and the two fish, one can imagine what went on in his mind when asked to offer them to Jesus. Maybe a mere look into Jesus’ eyes was enough to inspire him to give Jesus all he had, including his heart…
Jesus flees the crowds who want to make him a king—a political king who would oppose the detested Romans and possibly kick them out. But he is not that kind of king. He wants our hearts, not our swords.
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