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Multiplication of the loaves

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REFLECTION

John 6:1-15

 

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

 

Reflection

THE PEOPLE SAW THE SIGN. The feeding of the five thousand is narrated in all four Gospels, but only John develops the theme of Jesus as the Bread of Life. The miracle recalls God’s feeding of Israel with manna in the desert. The people believed that this miracle would be repeated in God’s future time, in particular by the Messiah, God’s agent. The Apocalypse of Isaiah even foresees a wondrous event: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain… He will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces” (Is 25:6-8).

Clearly, the rich banquet means more than satisfaction of bodily appetite; it symbolizes the salvation that God offers to the people. And as the narrative of John develops, attention is turned from material bread that satisfies physical hunger to another bread that satisfies the spirit.

 

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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