Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed him because of the miraculous signs they saw when He healed the sick. So He went up into the hills and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Then lifting up his eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to him and said to Philip, «Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?». He said this to test Philip, for He himself knew what He was going to do. Philip answered him, «Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece». Then one of Jesus' disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said, «There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?».
Jesus said, «Make the people sit down». There was plenty of grass there so the people, about five thousand men, sat down to rest. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish and gave them as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten enough, he told his disciples, «Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost». So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is with pieces of the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw this sign that Jesus had just given, they said, «This is really the Prophet, he who is to come into the world». Jesus realized that they would come and take him by force to make him king; so he fled to the hills by himself.
We know this event well because the multiplication of the loaves is a prelude to the establishment of the Eucharist. Jesus takes the loaves, gives thanks to God and distributes them to the disciples. The celebration of the Eucharist teaches us, nourishes us and sends us out as missionaries of peace and reconciliation, go in the peace of Christ.
Jesus is at the heart of this event in His humanity and also in His divinity, yet He wanted His disciples to participate humainly, even if they will not understand everything. They will later understand the importance of this participation, because they will remember it in His absence. Every celebration of the Eucharist is a celebration of faith, faith in Jesus Christ, dead and risen.
It is important that we observe the conclusion made by the people. "He is truly the great Prophet, the one who comes into the world", without understanding anything, neither the act committed, nor its purpose. Today, with the additional elements, we must understand the importance of the Eucharist, our participation in the celebration, and the manifestation of the divine work. God needs our participation, so that the True Eucharist be lived by all the believers.
Action of the day : Learn to give what you have.
«He said this to test Philip, for He himself knew what He was going to do»
Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench
(Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, we read in the Gospel the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves: «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» (Jn 6:11). The utter devastation of the Apostles facing so many hungry people makes us think of today's crowds, not on hunger, but much worse: far away from God, with a “spiritual anorexia”, preventing any participation in Easter and the possibility to meet Jesus. We do not know how to reach so many people... In today's reading, a message of hope is fluttering: lack of means does not matter; supernatural resources do; let us not be “realistic”, but “full of trust” in God. Thus, when Jesus asks Philip where could they buy some bread for all those people «He said this to test Philip, for He himself knew what He was going to do» (Jn 6:5-6). The Lord expects us to trust Him.
When looking at these “signs of the times”, we are not expecting passivity (laziness, languor for lack of fighting...), but hope: to make a miracle, the Lord wants the Apostles courage and dedication and the generosity of the boy who is willing to give some barley loaves and the two fish. Jesus also multiplies our faith, obedience and boldness, even though we cannot see right away the fruit of our efforts, just as the farmer cannot see the stalk already appearing after sowing. «Faith, without, however, allowing discouragement to overcome us; without being halted by merely human calculations. To surmount any obstacles, we must start by working, fully forcing our way into the task, so that our very effort brings us to open up new paths» (St. Josemaria Escriva), that will pop up unexpectedly.
Let us not wait for the right moment to place whatever we have at our disposal: but as soon as possible!, for Jesus is awaiting us to perform the miracle. «The troubles the world scene presents at the beginning of the new millennium lead us to think that only an intercession from above may allow us to expect a less darker future», John Paul II wrote. Let us, therefore, turn to the Virgin Mary with the Rosary, for her mediation has always been felt in so many frail moments Mankind has gone throughout history.