…..from the Pastor’s Desk:

Table for 5000, please

“So they collected them, and filled 12 wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.” – John 6:1-15closeJohn 6:1-15 Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand 6:1 After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (ESV) closeJohn 6:1-15closeJohn 6:1-15 Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand 6:1 After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (ESV) Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand 6:1 After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (ESV)
We have heard this Gospel many times. I remember back in Jersey as a little kid thinking about how it was actually done [youngsters have inquiring minds]. I had several different versions:
One. All the extra fish and loaves just appeared out of thin air – like magic– on the
ground in front of them.
Two. Whenever a loaf was broken in half or a fish cut, it would immediately grow back
the other half and they kept repeating this over and over until all were fed.
Three. They put the fish in one basket and the loaves in another. [Don’t ask me where
the baskets came from or why they had them] Then the baskets kept filling from the bottom up until all were fed.
Four. The food appeared [again, like magic] in each person’s satchel [these were the
days before backpacks] and then they shared with each other.
As I grew older I began to see different layers in the story beyond the spectacular
multiplication miracle. I reflected not so much on how it happened – but why it happened.
Bottom line, people were hungry, for food. But, Jesus also fed them spiritually. It is a story of compassion and love from the one who personified both.
Thus, the feeding of the 5000 is not just about dinner, about actually eating that is, it is
about how we are to treat one another, to show hospitality, to care for those among us who
hunger and thirst not just for bread and water – but for justice and righteousness.
Jesus could have sent them on their way, but these people had traveled a great distance to
see him, to hear him, and to touch him. So he took what he had – blest it, broke it, and shared it – foreshadowing what would happen to his own body as it would be broken and shared with us all as the Body of Christ. As much so now, for us today at this Mass, as it was at the Last Supper.
So we do not turn away or turn others away. We make do with what we have. We share it, we give it – freely. God takes it from there. I remember a Franciscan Sister telling us;
Do your best, pray that it’s blessed, and he’ll take care of the rest.” Good advice today as
back then.
The Bible is full of wonderful stories. Some are to be taken literally, bearing the same
weight as our Roman Catholic Dogmas and Doctrines. Some are only parables, but teach
great lessons. Some are conflations of various events, related in ‘one telling’ things that may have happened multiple times.
And so, we can look at the multiplication of loaves and fishes as an actual event, or we
can see it as a story about sharing. I, for one, think that it actually happened just as we heard, but for the life of me – I still can’t figure out how!

All the best,
Father Ron

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