Jesus Feeds A Crowd Of Five Thousand
Reflection on the Gospel of Seventeenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
The Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Jesus notices that a multitude of people have followed Him and His disciples. Jesus knows that the people are tired, hungry and are in need. He is interested in taking care of the multitude. Jesus presents the problem before the disciples as a test but the disciples fail miserably. Andrew and Philip have been with Jesus from the first days of the Gospel (cf. 1:43), but they have not learned from their master’s attempt to draw them beyond the limitations of their expectations (cf. 1:35–51), in this case the need for a large sum of money to buy quantities of bread. Nevertheless the raw material for the events that follow has been provided: the loaves and the fish. The reader waits for Jesus’ action, as “he himself knew what he would do”
The author adds two details: there was much grass in the place, and the men who arranged themselves for the meal were about five thousand in number. The latter detail indicates the immensity of the crowd and heightens the impact of the feeding. The green grass, however, recalls Ps 23:2: “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” Jesus takes the loaves, gives thanks and distributes them to the people stretched out for the meal. The distribution of the loaves recalls the formal setting of a eucharistic celebration. He also distributes the fish (v. 11b) and all are satisfied (v. 11c). The promise of Ps 23:1 is fulfilled: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
The crowd recognizes the outstanding extraordinary event as a divine miracle. Jesus is certainly recognized as a Messiah they have been promised and have been waiting for. The impossible is now possible. The people want Jesus to take the Throne of David politically and free them from Rome. Jesus has no intention of being a political Messiah (freeing Israel from Rome) but He is the Messiah who will free Israel (humanity) from sin, so that they may gain access to the eternal Kingdom of God through Him.
God knows what we need and if we are truly His disciples, we will recognize His plan and His intention for our lives. Nothing is Impossible for God.