Today’s Gospel begins with a crowd. They have followed Jesus to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, to hear his teaching. Jesus knows that the people need to eat, and so he provides them with food. Five loaves and two fish, brought by a small boy, become enough to feed a crowd of five thousand people, through the miracle that Jesus works.
This Gospel reveals Jesus’ care for the people. He doesn’t leave them hungry – in fact, he provides an abundance of food, with twelve baskets of scraps left over. It must have been a remarkable occasion – a great picnic that people would remember for a long time afterwards. The people were united in sharing the food that Jesus had given them.
The miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand prefigures our celebration of the Eucharist. Jesus showed his love for the people by giving them food, and he shows his love for us by feeding us with his Body and Blood in Holy Communion. As he was generous in providing abundant food for the crowd, so he is generous in his love for us. Just as the five thousand were brought together by sharing the food that Jesus gave them, we should be brought together by our sharing in the celebration of Mass – this is another meaning of ‘communion.’ Our celebration doesn’t end when we leave the church – Jesus calls to remain in communion, by our care for each other.
God’s love for us is generous and not stingy. Jesus provided food for a great crowd of people, and he provides for us at Mass. And he calls to show the same generous love to one another.