In the gospel reading today, Jesus feeds a multitude of people with next to nothing. We know from other gospel accounts that the crowd included five thousand “men.” With their wives and children, the number of people easily could have amounted to over twenty thousand. Though the task was enormous, of even greater consequence was the message communicated through the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.
Indeed, the gospel is filled with subtle clues that illustrate the importance of the event. The passage points out that the Jewish feast of Passover was near, for example, connecting Christ to the saving action of God in leading his people out of slavery more than a thousand years earlier. That Jesus “went up on the mountain” recalls Moses, who likewise went up on Mount Sinai to receive the Law. The detail that “there was a great deal of grass” identifies Jesus as the divine shepherd in Psalm 23, who makes his sheep “lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23). Without question, the miracle was spectacular in both scope and redemptive significance.
It all began, however, with the contribution of a boy who happened to have five loaves of barley and two fish. What other wonder-workers likely would have overlooked as too small of a gift, Christ used to feed the hungry throng. From the tiny offering of his young assistant, the good shepherd cared for his enormous flock.
Whatever provision we can make for the mission of God’s salvation of the human race will be enough for the Lord to accomplish his purposes. Though seemingly insignificant, whatever you can muster of your time, talent, and treasure to support Christ in his love and care for the flock, God will turn into a truly miraculous and saving event. We must all do what we can.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
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