On hearing this, Jesus set out secretly 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 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.
“You give them something to eat.” From the context of these words in today’s gospel reading, it is clear that Jesus is here emphasizing the you. In other words, Jesus is telling his disciples not to send away the crowds for them to buy food in the near villages but instead to feed the crowds themselves. And that mandate continues to be valid throughout the ages.
Perhaps the greatest scandal of our times is the fact that, according to the latest reports of the United Nations’ experts, we produce enough food to feed every human being on the planet—and yet, always according to reliable statistics of the same world organization, every day some 100, 000 people die of malnutrition. Doubtless some of these deaths can be attributed to atmospheric or geographical circumstances. But most impartial observers of the human scene agree that famine most often results from human selfishness and the profit motive. The developed countries just lack the political will to end world hunger.
As Christians we must pressure our politicians to make decisions based on the social harmony of a world built on solidarity and peace, not on short-term national interests that can lead to injustice and social unrest.
“You can give them something to eat.”
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