“He distributed as much as they wanted to those who were reclining.”
In Last week’s Gospel, Jesus and His disciples went by boat to a quiet place of rest; however, the crowd following Him arrived there first. “When He disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” In taking pity on the vast crowd, Jesus is showing us today, the foreshadowing of His giving “all” of Himself to us in the Eucharist. Jesus is on a mountain with a crowd of 5,000 hungry men coming up to Him, plus women and children! In the Old Testament, Moses went up Mount Sinai to God, to receive for the Israelite people the “food of His Law,” the Covenant, the Ten Commandments. Moses also turned to God to feed the Israelites physically in the dessert with manna and quail. Here, on this mountain, Jesus will give to the people who come up to Him the foreshadowing of their spiritual food, the New Covenant of Love, Himself. First, Jesus must give the crowd food to feed their physical hunger. The sheer number, 5,000, tells us of the enormousness of the situation. No mere man and his disciples could care for such a large crowd. Yet Jesus, the Good Shepherd could! The food necessary to feed such a crowd was well beyond everyone’s means, except Jesus, the Son of God. Giving thanks to the Father, Jesus fed everyone with five loaves of bread and two fish. Twelve baskets of fragments were left over, signifying that Jesus, the bread of life, would always provide Himself for the spiritual nourishment of all who come to Him. Those 5,000 men made one crowd that followed Jesus and whom He fed. We are the many members of Christ’s one Body – the Church, and we too, follow Jesus, our Head, and He gives all of Himself to us by feeding us with His Body and Blood. Since Jesus, who returned to the Father feeds us with Himself, we too are meant to come to the Father and eternal life in God, through Jesus.