17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: 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.
In this Gospel selection from John we read of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. It’s a familiar story and the only miracle Jesus performed that is recorded in all four Gospels. Jesus has been traveling, teaching and healing. A growing number of people have begun to follow him. They have witnessed his treatment of the sick and others in need and realize this is a man unlike other men. John tells us the crowd now numbers 5000 but there are probably many more. And they need to be fed!
The disciples are fixated on the enormous need and lack of resources but Jesus tells them to have the crowd recline, to rest and trust that all will be well. These are strangers, not his family or friends, but Jesus doesn’t turn them away. He treats these strangers with love and compassion and when told there is some food, five loaves and two fish, Jesus turns this scarcity into sufficiency. In fact, it has turned into an abundance with fragments enough remaining from the five loaves to fill twelve baskets. This abundance can be seen as a sign of the many blessings we have received in our lives. Blessings God has provided that are not only material things.
Consider the many ways you have been blessed in your life. Give thanks for God’s abundant generosity. Reflect on how you can share this abundance this week with others, remembering that not all of your blessings or your gifts are material things.