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.
It is interesting to note in today’s gospel reading that it was not Jesus himself who distributed the multiplied bread and fish to the crowd. Instead he had his disciples do it for him. Obviously he wanted to associate them to his feeding activity. This is a symbolic move on his part. It means that all the disciples of Jesus dispersed throughout time and space must feed the hungry masses of mankind.
In that connection, if we look at our world situation today, we find a scandalous anomaly. On the one hand, according to the UN food agency, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the world has the resources and technology to produce sufficient quantities of food to bring an end to hunger and poverty. Yet, on the other hand, the UN also reports (cf. Jean Ziegler’s statement in October 2005) that every day 100,000 people die of malnutrition. Why is this? Partly because of natural catastrophes. But partly also (and maybe more importantly) because of human greed. Ultimately rich countries are not willing to share more of their wealth with developing countries, and when they do share their wealth, the help given usually ends up in the pockets of corrupt local officials. As we read in 1 Tim 6:10: “The love of money is the root of all evils.”
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