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Thanks in anticipation.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
"The Multiplication of Loaves"
- January 4, 2011
In Markâs account, Jesus stands out as the âgood shepherdâ, whose heart goes out to the ordinary people, drifting like lost sheep. His pity moves him to assuage the spiritual hunger of the crowds by teaching them. Even more, his miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes feeds them physically. With the Lord, both spiritual hunger and physical need are related. Alleviating the one is meant to aid the other.
Mark deliberately brings in allusions to God feeding his people in the desert with manna. The people are told to sit down and recline, as at table. The allusion to âgreen grassâ in the wasteland is a direct evocation of the psalm, âThe Lord is my Shepherdâ. Indeed, the symbol is that of the âmessianic banquetâ, where God feeds all those who come to him, no matter how diverse their background.
Jesus commands that the loaves and fishes be brought to him. And as the host at a meal, he blesses the bread, looking up to heaven, and gives them to his disciples to distribute. This account is also reminiscent of the Last Supper, where he will âtake bread, bless, break and giveâ. Our word eucharist comes from âto give thanksâ. And though the fish do not figure any further in the narrative, the very first Christian symbol from the Roman catacombs is the âsign of the fishâ ichthys, the Greek acronym for âJesus Christ, Son of God, Saviourâ.
In this incident, Jesus continues to say to the Church, her ministers and the people, âthey need not go awayâ, âgive them something to eat.â The ministers, conscious of their own weakness. turn to Christ as the source of nourishment. But they must first know him as âthe compassionate oneâ and experience the power of his word, before they give him to his people in the celebration of the Eucharist.