Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.
Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’
There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted.
When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.
Gospel for Sunday of the 17th week in Ordinary Time
With this reading we have sequed from Mark’s narrative which was building up to the feeding of the 5000 to John’s account of the miracle and his exploration of its meaning in the bread of Life discourse (which we will hear read over the coming 4 Sundays).
Last week we heard of Jesus feeding the people by his word, teaching them, and guiding them to faith in God and preparing them to live in God’s kingdom. This week we hear of a feeding with food, bread and fish. Both feedings were real and particular and both symbolise the Lord’s continued spiritual feeding of his people with his very self, by Scripture and the sacramental food of the Eucharist.
His ministry to them prefigures what can be our ministry to others.
- What have we to share with others, that may seem quite inadequate to what seems to be lacking, but may in God’s grace become what is needed?
Stained glass. Church of the Magdalene, Beziers, France. © 2015, Allen Morris.