Signs

Jesus multiplies loaves and fish

He took the five loaves and the two fish, he raised his eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to distribute; and he divided the two fish among all.

Gospel - Mark [Mk 6, 30-44]

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported everything they had done and taught. And he said to them, "Come aside, to a lonely place, and rest for a while". In fact, there was a large crowd that came and went and they didn't even have time to eat anymore. Then they set out in the boat to a lonely place apart. But many saw them leave and understood, and from all the cities they began to run there on foot and preceded them. When he disembarked, he saw a large crowd and was moved by them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things. As it was getting late, the disciples approached him saying: "This place is lonely and it is now late; therefore take them off, so that, going through the countryside and neighboring villages, they can buy food". But he replied, "You feed them yourself".

They said to him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii of bread and feed them?". But he said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go and see". And having ascertained, they reported: "Five loaves and two fish". Then he ordered them all to sit down, in groups, on the green grass. And they all sat down in groups of one hundred and fifty. He took the five loaves and the two fish, he raised his eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to distribute; and he divided the two fish among all. They all ate and were satisfied, and they took away twelve baskets full of pieces of bread and also of fish. Those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Exegesis - Mark [Mk 6, 30-44]

This miracle of Jesus is the only one to be narrated in all four Gospels, for its symbolic meaning and for the New Testament reference to the gift of manna (Ex 16: 4-35): it reveals that Jesus is the prophet announced by Moses and in the end it foretells the gift of the Eucharist, which becomes reality starting from the Last Supper.

Jesus had invited the disciples to rest a little in a desert place, the multitude perceives that he has gone to the other shore of the lake, goes behind him and arrives first. In fact, a large crowd quickly gathers around the Twelve and their Master, to the point of arousing deep emotion in Jesus: they see that crowd that awaits them, they are saddened "because they were like sheep without a shepherd". The Pharisees and the Scribes who should have taught the people in the precepts of God, cared only for their traditions, and the people lived far from God. Jesus has compassion for them and begins to instruct them.

Time passes and evening comes; the disciples, worried, ask Jesus to let the people go. From the Gospel of John we know that it was the apostle Saint Philip who addressed this observation to Jesus, stating that there in the desert it was not possible to find food for so many people.

Jesus says: "You give him something to eat!": He wants to provide the crowd not only with spiritual food, but also with material food. But they are surprised: "Do you want us to go and buy bread for two hundred denarii?". He asks: "How many loaves do you have? Go and see". The answer is five loaves and two fish, too few to feed all that multitude! But Jesus orders those present to sit in groups and so does the crowd, arranging themselves in ordered groups of one hundred and fifty on the green grass. The underlining is not accidental, because it evokes those verdant pastures to which the "Shepherd God" guides, also sung in Psalm 23 and remembered during the Exodus.

"He took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing", broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to distribute: this way of speaking and the gestures that accompany it make one think of the celebration of the Lord's Supper and anticipate the celebration of the Eucharist.

"They all ate and were satisfied, and they took away twelve baskets full of pieces of bread and also fish". The twelve baskets of leftover bread demonstrate how the miracle exceeded all expectations, going beyond the needs of those present, and allude to the extraordinary spread that this Word will have thanks to the mission of the Twelve.

Those who ate the loaves were five thousand men": another symbolic reminder that refers to the hungry multitude in the desert, for which - during the Exodus - it was Moses who obtained the gift of manna from God.

We too, when we need to be "fed", beg Jesus to accompany us with his word, as reported in the Gospel, to fill all our dissatisfaction, disappointment, and anguish, until the twilight of our life.

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