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Jesus serves ‘miracle meal’ to overflow crowd

Based on Gospel of John 6: 1–15

Five barley loaves and two fish – an overflow crowd – a miracle meal! Beginning this Sunday, for the next five Sundays, we will hear John’s Gospel dealing with Jesus’ teachings that he is the Bread of Life – the food that will forever nourish and sustain us who believe in him. These summer Gospel readings will provide an excellent continuing reflection on the value, significance and graces of the Eucharist, the sacrament that is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, No. 11).

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus leads the large crowd following him to a nearby mountain where he sits down among them to tell them of God’s love and forgiveness.

Jesus spent the day teaching and healing. By evening, Jesus asked his apostles about food to feed the crowd. Andrew said to Jesus, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Bring the food to me.” He told the apostles to have the crowd of 5,000 men, plus women and children, sit down on the grass.

Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, gave thanks, blessed, broke, and gave them to the apostles to share with the people. There was more than enough food for everyone. They even had leftovers – enough to fill 12 baskets. What an amazing miracle. In fact, this is the only miracle found in all four Gospels.

Excited after witnessing the miracle of the bread, the people wanted to make Jesus a king in order to free them from the Roman rulers and provide for them. Jesus wasn’t interested in being a king or in political platforms. He wanted to do more than provide for people’s earthly lives. Jesus wanted to change hearts.

As we gather for Mass, or celebration of the Eucharist (that means “thanksgiving”), we recall the Last Supper and share in Jesus’ saving death and Resurrection. Through the priest we offer the bread and wine and we offer our lives to God. As the priest says the words of consecration, and through the action of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus, and Jesus shares himself with each of us in holy Communion. We, then, are to go out and share Jesus’ love with others.

As the responsorial psalm tells us, “The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.”