Is 55: 1-3; Rom 8:35, 37-39; Matt 14:13-21
Two parish priests were discussing about how they share the Sunday collections with their assistant priests. “That’s easy!” the younger pastor said. “For me, I draw a big circle on the floor. I toes the money up in the air and what falls inside is mine and what falls outside goes to my assistant,” continued the young pastor.
The old pastor said: “My system is simpler but more effective,” bragged the old priest. “I simply tossed up all the money in the air. What goes up is for my assistant and what comes down is for me,” the old pastor continued.
Following the Law of gravity, obviously the assistant gets nothing. Only a miracle can save him.
In our gospel today Jesus performs a miracle, the multiplication of five loaves of bread and two fish but not the kind of miracle those parish priests are doing. Jesus did it because the spirit of compassion and sensitivity motivated him.
Looking at the miracle Jesus performed, we can find three different interpretations presented to us by some scholars of the Bible:
First is the literal interpretation of this text in the Bible. We may look at it as a simple multiplication of loaves and fishes. It is like doing magic. So we can consider Jesus as a magician, doing many tricks to entertain the people which are His audience too.
Second is the figurative interpretation. Many people see in this miracle a Sacrament, a symbol of the Eucharist. Their reason is the presence of the elements which can be found in the Eucharist: the taking of the bread, giving thanks, breaking of the bread and sharing which are the patterns of the Holy Eucharist. They have felt that this was not a meal where people are satisfied of their physical hunger but a meal where they ate the spiritual food of Christ.
Third is the real interpretation of this text. One Bible scholar had said that we had to picture out the scene. There is the crowd. It is late in the afternoon and they are hungry. Would you believe that the vast majority of the crowd would go to that lake without any food at all (baon or provision)? I don’t think so. It is their culture to bring provisions wherever they go. Now it was evening and they were hungry. No one would like to produce what he or she had because they were selfish. They were afraid to share because if they do so, nothing left for them. But Jesus took the initiative. He began to share with a blessing, an invitation and a smile. Thereupon all began to open their provisions, share and before they knew it, there was enough food and more than enough for all.
If this is what happened, then, it was not a miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes but it was a miracle of the changing of selfish people into generous people at the touch of Christ. It was the miracle of the birth of love in grudging hearts of this kind of people.
We too, in our daily lives are experiencing miracles. Like for example, the sun shines every morning. If it does not, then, what will happen to us and to all other creatures? Instead of having good time with our friends, we could help cleaning the house to give a break to our wife or to our parents and that is a miracle of doing those things. Instead of seeing only the negative side of others, we could be more generous in complementing their better side. Instead of constantly criticizing and finding faults, we could be compassionate enough to be more supportive and that’s a miracle.
To end this, let us reflect what Fr. Burghardt, S.J. said in his book entitled 7 Hungers of the Eucharist: “One thing is sure only, when Christ is there, the weary find rest and the hungry is fed. When Christ is there we are satisfied not only of our hunger for food but also of our hunger for truth, for freedom, for peace, for understanding, for justice and for love.”
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A