1. Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick…When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone (Jn6:1-25).
2. The sixth chapter of the Gospel of St John dwells so much on the bread of life, the body of Christ. The opening verses present the miracle of the multiplication of bread. From this miracle would evolve a long teaching on the body and blood of Christ. In today’s pericope people trooped to Jesus because of the miracles and healings that he had performed. They were not following him because they wanted food. But Jesus noticed that apart from spiritual needs the people were also physically famished. He took the initiative to do something. His question to Philip clearly indicated his desire: where can we BUY some bread for this people to eat? He wanted to spend on the people.
3. Weighing the financial burden of nourishing the crowd, Philip made Jesus to understand that buying food for the crowd was not a worthwhile venture: the salary of two hundred days would not be enough to buy food for each to have just a little piece. For it is better to ignore the topic and allow each person to carry his or her cross. But Andrew thought differently, he saw a boy having five loaves of bread, the boy was probably a hawker hoping to make some sales as it happens today in prayer grounds. He signaled this to Jesus, expressing some doubts that it would really do some good and at the same challenging Jesus to do something from that. For him doing something no matter how little is better than doing nothing at all. He probably bought the loaves of bread from the boy and presented them to Jesus.
4. Jesus cares, he prayed over the bread and told the disciples to distribute them to the crowd. A miracle occurred as it happened in the time of Elisha(2kg4:42-44). People ate and were satisfied. Jesus told them to gather the left over so that nothing is wasted. Here we see Jesus passing a message that wastefulness in any form is against the will of God. Even when we are full we must not waste any food. As with food so with water and every other material. If surpluses are not thrown away but given to those in need, less people will go to bed with empty stomach.
5. At the sight of this miracle the reaction of the people was spontaneous and unanimous. They saw Jesus as the Prophet and wanted to make him a king. Yes, the poor and the needy would want a king who would look at them and read into their difficulties without turning away and pretending that they can sort themselves out, a leader who will nourish and not impoverish them, a leader who will prefer to spend on them not the one who will steal from them. They found that leader in Jesus. But Jesus would not accept that honour. He came to serve and not to be placed on a throne like earthly kings. He withdrew and frustrated their desire to make him a king. He knew his mission and would not like to be derailed by dancing to the tune of the crowd.
6. In the face of human suffering and misery the worst attitude would be to think that the problems are so immense that it is better to close your eyes. Philip felt that way before the hungry crowd. Andrew’s approach of offering something no matter how little should inspire your decisions when it comes to helping those in need. A little can become great in the hands of Jesus. Like Jesus learn to gather the left over of your food, your clothes, your money etc. Make them useful to those who need them and you would be making the world a better place.
Peace and security upon you.