After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages 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 among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.Then Jesus 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.
When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Developing our intellectual capacity is one way of discovering God’s creation in our studies. For example, when we learn about math formulas, we are learning about the very design of creation. Our ability to learn helps us to develop and understand and contribute to the world in a positive way.
However, the danger in our world of over relying on our intellect fools us into pretending that we can understand everything and this cuts at the edges of what it means to have faith. This rationalization can lead to a type of cynicism about things religious or matters of faith. In turn, this apparent certainty we desire can make us seem in control in the face of the unexplainable.
But people who follow God believe in both the path of learning to understand God and the sense of wonder that come from the unexplainable and which acknowledges there are things of God unknown to us.
Gamaliel has this sense or intuition in the first reading, in intervening with the Sanhedrin to warn them that something is different about these Apostles.
And, Jesus takes a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish and feeds thousands. I have heard literally dozens of homilies and read articles explaining away in human terms what this miracle “really was……”.
“It was Jesus helping people understand that they needed to share what they all had but they hoarded”…is a popular version. You know, there was an abundance of food, but people were being selfish, so the miracle of sharing took place. This interpretation of the story can certainly give us some great reflections about how we care for those around us. But, it is also pretty rationale and leaves us with a deeper sense of certainty about how something seemingly so improbable happened so easily.
But we should reflect on why the crowd was gathered in the first place. John tells us the crowd gathered and followed Jesus because of signs he was performing on the sick. A crowd gathering would likely tell us that sick people were getting miraculously well. Why else follow? He was performing signs. Signs of God. Not explainable, but curing human sickness, the human condition.
Perhaps we should pause in the wonder of prayer about the majesty, the power, the wonder of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God’s reconciliation with the world in Jesus did these literal things: the blind could see, the deaf could hear, the lame could walk, the leper was healed, the dead came to life, demons were expelled and food was created in a moment to feed a crowd of thousands. Some day, hopefully in the glory of Heaven, it will maybe be easier to understand. For now, I am just grateful to know of that order of Love as a sign for me, a sinner. Easter is that ultimate performed sign that reminds us He rose from the dead!
–Mr. David Laughlin is the president of St. Louis U. High.
Eternal Father, confirm me,
Eternal Son, confirm me,
Holy Spirit, confirm me,
Holy Trinity, confirm me,
My one and only God, confirm me.
—from the Journal of St. Ignatius Loyola
Please share the Good Word with your friends!