July 29, 2012: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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. (John 6:1-15)
Try to put yourself in this scene: 5000 hungry people are sitting down on the ground waiting to listen to Jesus. The apostles are scurrying around not knowing how they can possibly feed them all. Quietly they collect five barley loaves and two fish that a boy has with him. Jesus blesses the loaves and fishes and tells the apostles to distribute them. They do — everyone eats their fill — and there is food left over! And, once they have all eaten, they sit down to listen to Jesus’ message.
Thinking about the astonishment of the apostles when all of this took place will give you a good picture of them. They know Jesus and love Jesus and want to follow him. But at this time, though they knew what he taught them about God, they were not aware of all of his powers and this multiplying of the loaves and fishes must have amazed them! And given them a new look at this wonderful man who so inspired them.