August 3, 2014: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me, “ and He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the pieces left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Those who are there were about five thousand, not counting women and children. (Matthew 14:13-21)
The miracle of the loaves and the fishes, so in keeping with what we know of Jesus, is yet another example of meeting the physical and emotional needs of those around him. They were hungry—and he fed them. The Galileans took note of the actions of Jesus. The following day he began to speak of a different bread he would give them, a foreshadowing of the heavenly food which he was about to give as spiritual nourishment to the millions who would become His follower down through the centuries. The coming together as a community, listening to the words of Jesus, and then eating a meal together, were becoming the foundation of the understanding of Eucharist.
As Christians come together the world over to do the same–gather, listen and eat, we participate in the sharing of community, of reflection on the word of God, and the meal of bread and wine as Jesus taught us.
On a very simple level, Jesus is teaching us the lesson of compassion he lived out throughout his ministry: if they are hungry, feed them; if they are outcasts, welcome them in; if they are suffering, relieve their suffering; if they are persecuted, stand up for them. We often forget that Jesus did not live in churches, he lived in the streets of the villages, towns and country sides around him in close contact with those around him. His ministry and his miracles were local. So are ours, if we accept the challenge.
Live the Gospel of this Sunday. Feed those who are hungry around you.