The Nourishment of Jesus

Mark 6: 34-44
1 Jn 4: 7-10 / Ps 72: 1-2, 3-4, 7-8

You give them something to eat.
(Mark 6:37)

The world has enough provision,
It is love that is lacking still;
If hearts were ruled by compassion,
Millions would eat and have their fill.

As Jesus went ashore, He saw a great crowd; and He had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. When it grew late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But He answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to Him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And He said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then He ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before the people; and He divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men. (Mark 6:34-44)

Reflection

The feeding of the five thousand was rich with symbolism, not only for the benefit of the hungry multitudes, but also for the enlightenment of the apostles, as well as for the future generations of Christians. First of all, the miracle was meant to recall for the Jews God’s mercy, when He fed the Israelite nation for 40 years in the desert during its exodus from Egypt (Ex.16:4-12). Now the Son was doing His Father’s work again. Secondly, if the miracle recalled the past, it was also meant to foretell the future, as the followers of the Bread of Life would be commemorating the “breaking of the bread” for the spiritual nourishment of millions in the Holy Eucharist of the Mass. Finally, Jesus also invited His apostles to share in caring for the hungry: “You give them something to eat.” Jesus wanted them to take the initiative first, as the apostles looked for the five loaves and two fish, and then He supplied the miracle.

Through Jesus, God showed His love for the people, who were both physically and spiritually underfed. Before He fed them bread, He first nourished them with His Word. He showed how much love God lavishes on His people (all ate to their fullest, with twelve baskets more to bring). Clearly, another lesson Jesus is teaching us is to practice His gift of generosity. If only ten percent of the world’s richest donated 10% of their wealth to feed the poorest, there would no longer be any hunger to speak of today. And yet, according to Jesus, it is really the rich who are truly famished and poor in the greater order of things. They have a great hunger that no food or material thing can ever satisfy. This void can only be satisfied by the Word of God. Pascal, the great French philosopher once said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which only Jesus Christ can fill.” It is only by entering into a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus that God can fill this inner void, and fulfill our hunger for meaning in this life, plus enduring hope for the Life to come. And like the bread that fed the five thousand, His gift of eternal life is absolutely free for all!

We praise and thank You, Father God, for providing us with all the necessities in life, and for nourishing us with Your Word, and the Bread of Life, Whom we receive in the Holy Mass. Help us to share these blessings with others. Amen.

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