“But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.” Matthew 14:13-14
Who was this Jesus who could draw vast crowds into a remote part of the country just to be with him? What were they seeking from him that they would travel so far from their homes with nothing to eat? It was Jesus’ teaching that attracted them – his descriptions of the kingdom of God that filled their hearts with hope and expectation.
As evening came, the disciples asked Jesus to send the people away for food. It’s interesting that the people themselves did not make this request; they seemed content just to listen to Jesus. Wanting to continue to care for the people, Jesus fed them miraculously and abundantly – more than 5000 of them! First he gave them teaching and then he gave them bread – food for the soul and food for the body; food for the spiritual life and food for the earthly life.
Jesus continues to feed his people. He offers them the ultimate “soul food’ his own body, fully present in the Eucharist. He offers, but he does not force himself upon us.
Through scripture study we learn that the 2 fish and 5 loaves that Jesus shared among the crowd belonged to a young boy. See how abundantly Jesus uses even the smallest of gifts that we offer to him?
The people who were fed by the loaves and fishes were impressed by Jesus’ powers. They wanted to make him a bread king to satisfy their hunger and other needs of daily life. They allowed their earthly desires to take precedence over their spiritual ones. Because they misunderstood the king and his kingdom, “he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up to the mountain by himself to pray.” Matthew 14:22-23. He is more than a supplier of free bread. He is the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35), who brings the rule of God to us and gives us His goodness and love.