The Gospel according to Matthew (14:13-21)
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” He said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over–twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.
Reflection: In our church, if there’s one thing that we don’t lack of, we don’t lack food. At least at my parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, there’s always food at our functions, meetings, or small gatherings. I would joke with our priest especially with the newly appointed associates and our seminarians to expect to put on some weight when you’re at our parish. But this is a way for our parishioners to show their compassion for one another. This is a way for them to get to know each other. This is a way for them to share in their abundance of food.
In today’s scripture, Jesus was emotionally hurting and broken-hearted, and was grieving by the death of John the Baptist. So, He jumped on a boat to be alone and to grieve. But the crowds had a different idea and were hungry to see Jesus. They didn’t think about Jesus and the sadness that He was encountering. They sought Him out for their own personal reasons despite the fact that He had withdrawn from the crowd to be alone. And what was Jesus’ reaction … let me put my personal emotions to the side to serve my brothers and sisters.
What would be our reaction if people approached us while we were grieving? What was Jesus’ reaction? Did He look at them and sigh, saying to Himself, “Why don’t they leave me alone. Don’t they know I am grieving?” No. Instead, Jesus was filled with mercy and compassion for them, and He went to them to heal many of their sick.
This scripture is another Eucharistic sign of the Last Supper. The language used in today’s Gospel uses words like “taking,” “loaves,” “blessed,” “broke” “gave to disciples”, “ate,” and “all”. These are words used in The Last Supper. The “Last Supper” and the “Feeding of the 5000” are linked by the use of food in the dispersal of the Divine blessing. Jesus is more than willing to share Himself with us.
This gives us insight into the heart and compassion of our Lord.
But just as Jesus had compassion for those who sought Him out in this story, so also He will ALWAYS have the deepest of compassion for us every time we seek Him out. If we find our lives steeped in sin, but run to Him anyway, He will look at us with compassion and mercy. He never tires of us returning to Him, seeking His healing and mercy. We should always have hope in Him and turn to Him with the greatest confidence.
Action of the Day: It’s easy to walk away from those who are in need. Even the disciples were willing to send the people elsewhere without a meal. Where in my life do we get the opportunity to “share my food” so others will have enough?