On hearing the death of John the Baptist, Jesus set out secretly by boat for a secluded place. 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.
Jesus as the new Moses, leading the people from crossing the sea (Jesus walking on the sea), to the desert for 40 years towards the promised land, Jesus going to a deserted place, is always for an encounter with the Father (contemplation), towards the accomplishment of divine will, feeding and leading them towards the Father. In this contemplation, He discovers from a re-reading of the events, the mission entrusted by the Father (action), immediately after the death of John Baptist. It’s a new beginning from the end of an era. We must know, like Jesus, to withdraw from the noise of the day (of past events of life) and learn from Jesus to contemplate the Father, in the present status of life. (A complicated comparison for the application of the gospel)
The multiplication of the loaves is a divine work, a sign of the divine presence, a call to meet him, when it is almost evening moments of our life, 'evening has come', says today's Gospel. These signs help us to discover the divine proximity and they invite us to commit ourselves, so that the multiplication of the loaves is perpetuated throughout our lives, by our commitment of these five loaves, though little or small they appear to be. The evening invites us to draw near to the Lord.
Broken bread is symbolically, God is broken and given to us, a divine rending, so that through this brokenness, we may participate in his divinity. By raising His eyes to heaven holding these bread given by the humanity, He holds us and raises us up to His Father, so that His Father may bless us and we may be made worthy of this Bread from heaven, ( we may be transformed into the body of Christ).
By giving these loaves to the people, Jesus invites us to give ourselves, by our commitment. If Jesus asked his disciples to pick up the pieces that were left over, let the graces we have received not be wasted or trampled on. They must be preserved, so that, for the glory of God, we give the fruits.
Action of the day: Be a bread of life for your brothers and sisters.
«Raised his eyes to heaven»
Fr. Xavier ROMERO i Galdeano
(Cervera, Lleida, Spain)
Today, the Gospel touches our “mental pockets”... This is why, as in Jesus' times, the voice of the prudent ones can be heard weighing whether this is worth our while. When they saw it was getting late, the disciples, who did not know how to handle the crowd gathered around Jesus, found a reasonable option: «they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat» (Mt 14:15). Little did they expect their Lord and Master to break this sensible advise by telling them: «you give them something to eat» (Mt 14:16).
A popular saying goes: «He who does not count on God, does not know how to count». And it is true, the disciples did not know —neither do we— how to count for they forgot, as we often forget, the most important part of the addition: God himself is always amongst us.
The disciples did their calculation right; they figured out the exact number of loaves and fishes, but how could they possibly divide them amongst such a huge crowd?; this is why they cautiously said: «We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes» (Mt 14:17). But they did not realize they also had Jesus—true God and true man— among them!
By quoting St. Josemaria Escrivà, it would not do us any harm to remember here that: «It is a good thing in our apostolate —it is in fact an obligation—to figure out our earthly means (2+2=4), but do not ever forget! you must also luckily count on another addend: God +2 +2...». Christian optimism is not based upon the absence of difficulties, of resistance and of personal errors, but upon God who says: «And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age» (Mt 28:20)
It would be good that both you and I, when facing our own difficulties, and prior to granting a death sentence to the boldness and optimism of the Christian spirit, we could relay upon God. If only we could say along with St. Francis that great prayer: «Wherever there is hate let me put love»; that is, wherever my accounts do not square up, let me rely upon God.