14:14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.
14:15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves."
14:16 Jesus said to them, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat."
14:17 They replied, "We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish."
14:18 And he said, "Bring them here to me."
14:19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.
14:20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.
14:21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
I invite you to reflect on the Gospel story, as if you were one of Jesus’ disciples. It may help to read it slowly, pausing whenever it feels right. It can also be read in a group setting.
It’s a sunny, breezy, late morning on the lake. It’s almost mealtime and I am looking forward to breaking bread with Jesus and the others. It will be the first time since we all heard the disturbing news of John’s beheading. John and Jesus were very close; the two respected and emulated each other. Where is Jesus?” I run out to see Jesus, who wading out to one of boats anchored off the beach.
Quickly, he climbs in, then sails farther and farther offshore. I call to him and track him from the shoreline. I trot along the crest of the slope and stop at a lookout point. A huge, hidden cove opens-up before me and I see a beach teaming with people. They have gathered, from the water all the way up the sandy slopes.. I stop in quiet amazement…
I walk down through the sand and rocks to get a closer look. I spot Jesus at the water’s edge, healing and curing everyone he can touch. He takes time to be with each person. From the youngest to the oldest, in families or by themselves, they come. Surely there is no one in whole world with Jesus’ compassion and dogged determination to love people. He is like a good shepherd who loves and protects his sheep no matter what.
As the afternoon light wanes, I hear someone say “It’s almost evening now.” Another one wants Jesus to send everyone away. I overhear Jesus’ reply, “Don’t send anyone away just yet. You give them something to eat.” I notice a few around him gather a small serving of smoked fish and bread, enough to feed a small family. They hand Jesus what they have collected. I hear Jesus’ words to the crowd, “Free people sit down to eat. We are a people delivered from slavery and captivity. Everyone, please find a place on the green grass. There is room for everyone.” Today, even though it seems everything is against us, I sense the presence of the Lord, and a peace deep down in my soul…
I see Jesus giving thanks over the food. He then starts to break the bread and says, “Blessed are you when you are kind and merciful to others.” He then tells us to share as God has shared with us. When I receive my piece of bread, I pass it along. The pace quickens as more and more bread is passed. As far as I can see, people are eating to their contentment and in quiet.
As the crowd begins to break up and walk into the waning light, I join the volunteers collecting any leftover bread. There’s enough for me but right now, that doesn’t seem important. I’m bursting with thanksgiving for Jesus. Somehow this day has made me feel renewed, like it was the first day of my life! I dedicate myself to loving God, even my enemies. My heart overflows with love...