Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (14: 13-21) in which Jesus feeds the five thousand.
Fr Paul says in today’s Gospel, Jesus is seeking some peace and quiet with his disciples so that he can come to terms with the death of John the Baptist. But as we hear the crowds anticipate where Jesus is going and when he gets there Jesus finds the crowd waiting for him.
The crowd have been following Jesus for three days so there is not much food left at all. Jesus turns what could have been a disaster into a meal for that huge crowd of people. By doing this Jesus demonstrates that sustenance comes not only through his teaching but also through hospitality because hospitality is also part of being a disciple.
Note that the number 12 is symbolic. In the Bible ‘twelve’ alerts us to the tribes of Israel. So the twelve baskets of scraps spoken of at the end shows the crowd that the twelve tribes of Jesus’ new Israel are there.
Note, too, the way Jesus takes the bread and says the blessing. It reminds any Christian of the Eucharist. So, this gigantic meal was a sort of Eucharist, Jesus at the center of his people, sustaining them through the word and the meal.
This is why the Mass is so important: we come together with Christ at the center sustaining us through the word and the meal.
In closing Fr Paul notes that left to our own resources we are helpless, but as today’s Gospel shows, with Jesus we can deal with anything.