In today's Gospel Reading (John 6:1-15), Jesus fed 5,000 people with five barley loaves and two fish.
He had the apostles gather the leftovers, which filled 12 wicker baskets. This feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle which is present in all four Gospels, so it is a significant event.
A huge crowd was following Jesus after He went across the Sea of Galilee because they had seen and heard of His healings and His miracles. So they were attracted to Him, literally captivated by Him.
The Jewish Feast of Passover was near, so we know that Our Lord’s ministry is soon coming to an end and that He would be taken away to be crucified.
Jesus and His disciples climbed to the top of the mountain and saw an immense crowd climbing up towards them. Our Lord knows the crowd is hungry, so He performs takes pity on them.
Now, if we want to truly understand the significance of today’s event in the Gospel, we must first understand that it was truly a miracle.
In fact, over the past several years there have been false theologians, who say that the multiplication of the loaves and fish was not a miracle. They say the real miracle was not the multiplication of loaves, but the act of caring. The people had plenty of food with them hidden under their coats and Jesus taught them to share. So they all pulled out their surplus of food from under their robes and everyone shared with his neighbor.
That is the lesson, they say. Jesus did not do a physical miracle; the real miracle was convincing people to share with others.
|Fr. John Paul Shea|
In fact, Jesus performed miracles to show that the Kingdom of God has come into our midst. The people in today’s Gospel understood this. This is why “when the people saw the sign [Our Lord] had done, they said, 'This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.'”
Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly the Prophet! He is the one who has come into our world to lead us into heaven! And He has given us His Church as His Mystical Body until He comes again.
Our Lord wants us to do acts of generosity. He wants us to feed the poor and visit the sick. But acts of charity are not the primary focus of our Church. The primary goal of our Church is to lead souls to heaven.
Our Church is not a human institution. It is a heavenly institution. We come to Church to experience God! We come into His presence so that we can be fed with the food of heaven in the Holy Eucharist, and then we go out and do acts of mercy.
In fact, the miraculous feeding of the 5000 people is a foreshadowing of the miraculous feeding of the Holy Eucharist, which we will hear about at Mass next week. The Gospel of John states that the next day after this miracle that Jesus and His disciples had crossed to the other side of the sea. The crowd of people noticed that Jesus was gone, so they go looking for Him.
When the crowd comes toward Jesus after crossing the sea, Jesus tells them yes, you are looking for me because you ate the loaves and were filled. But, “do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which [I] will give you (John 6:27). Jesus further says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. And the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51).
The miracle of the loaves and fish find its fulfillment in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the living Bread! He has come down from heaven, and He feeds us with Himself so that we may have eternal life.
This sort of thinking has become the mentality of many Catholics today. Science and technology coupled with our secular, relativistic culture has darkened the minds to many to the supernatural reality of our Church. In fact, since the 1960s many Churches have taken the tabernacle from behind the altar and put it off to the side.
Many modern Churches have been built to look more like a social hall or movie theater instead of a reflection of the heavenly Jerusalem. And many Catholics have lost awareness of the TRUE PRESENCE of our Lord in the Eucharist which is the ultimate miracle God has provided.
Many today look at our Church as if it is a sort of political party or social club. We hear the terms so often today of liberal and conservative Catholics. Yet, when it comes to the teachings of our Church, there is no such thing as left or right Catholics.
This sort of thinking is an earthly mentality. We either want to follow the teachings of our Church or we don’t! And if we don’t want to follow the teachings handed down to us by the apostles through the Catholic Church, including the moral teachings, then there are hundreds of other Churches we can join which will cater to our own earthly desires.
Of course, these Churches, or what we would call "ecclesial communities," do not have the real Bread from Heaven because they have broken away from the Church instituted by Jesus Christ.
And when we come to Him in faith, it is then that Our Lord provides for us not simply with earthly food, but with heavenly food—the gift of eternal life. Let us come to Him in humility. For He alone will satisfy our needs.
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Please read: How Desperate Are We for God?