Soon afterwards Jesus was in the midst of another large crowd, that obviously had nothing to eat. So he called his disciples and said to them,
I feel sorry for these people, because they have been with me for three days and now have nothing to eat. If I send them to their homes hungry, they will faint on the way; some of them have come a long way.
His disciples replied,
Where, in a deserted place like this, could we get enough bread to feed these people?
He asked them,
How many loaves have you?
And they answered,
Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Taking the seven loaves and giving thanks, he broke them, and handed them to his disciples to distribute. And they distributed them among the people. They also had some small fish, so Jesus said a blessing, and asked that these be shared as well.
The people ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand in number. Jesus sent them away, and immediately got into the boat with his disciples, and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
From our real life experience we can understand the feeling of hunger and its effects on the mind and body. When we see pictures of emaciated children dying of hunger in famine-stricken places, we understand what it is like. Today’s gospel presents us with a familiar scene—for the second time Jesus is confronted with a hungry crowd, which again evokes compassion from him. What might be the significance of repeating a similar story? The location, a non-Jewish territory, and the previous stories of Jesus ministering to non-Jews, give us clues—that God knows our needs and feeds our hunger irrespective of our race, religion, or background. Jesus’ disciples did not seem to understand this and reacted to Jesus’ challenge in the same way they did during the first miracle of the loaves. Like the disciples, we often misinterpret, disobey, or doubt our Christian call. All of us hunger for God not only for food. The people that followed Jesus were hungry for his word to fulfill their empty lives. Whatever provisions they brought with them did not last, making them physically hungry again. Only Jesus could satisfy both hungers in their life as he does today for us who believe.
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