(Matthew 14: 14-22)
The multiplication of the five loaves and two fish, in such a large quantity that they feed and fill five thousand men, not counting the number of women and children who were also there, is one of Christ’s most striking miracles. That is why it is written in all four Gospels. But why did the Lord do this miracle, which we hear about in today’s Gospel reading, and under what circumstances?
Our answer is given by the Evangelist Matthew: "Jesus saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them” (verse 14). How revealing this word is: “Compassion.” The Apostle Peter, who closely followed Jesus' life, said: "Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed..." (Acts 10:38). This was all done in accordance with the needs of each person. The same was done by the Lord here. When He saw the people who were sick, who had come from afar, He healed them all. Usually, Jesus would ask the person coming to Him for healing if they believed He was able to do this. But this time, it seems He did not ask a similar question. The fact that they came all that way to reach Jesus revealed that they did believe that Jesus could heal them, just as it happened.
Jesus felt compassion for the crowd, who was thirsting to hear His divine teaching! That is why men, women and children had come from the surrounding towns and villages to hear Him preach “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23). He urges them: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Christ’s words attract the crowds. In another such case, the Evangelist Luke writes: All the people who heard Jesus “marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth” (Luke 4:22). People listened with caution and interest to what the Lord was saying to them. How sweet the words of Christ would be! The Psalmist compares the word of God to honey: “How sweet to my taste are Your teachings- my Lord- more than honey” (Psalm 118:103). In the same Psalm, we read: Lord “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my paths” (Psalm 108:105). The hearts of men were sweetened by the words of Jesus and their souls lit up. They were so absorbed that no one had realized that the time had passed and that night was approaching.
But as it was time for the evening meal, the compassionate Lord saw that everyone was hungry, and that in the wilderness they could find nothing to eat. How could the people, exhausted from hunger, first of all the children, walk that long way back to their homes? That is why Jesus does something wonderful that no one expected. The Lord blessed what little food was there, five loaves of bread and two fish, and they multiplied to where all those present, the five thousand men and countless women and children, were filled. Not only were they filled, but there was much left over, twelve whole baskets!
My brothers and sisters, all the people there were so excited by this miracle that they wanted to proclaim Jesus as King of their Nation! They had not understood that it could not be confined to one nation with a secular ruler, like the others. However, we know that our Lord Jesus Christ is “the King of kings and the Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). We are called to become citizens of His Kingdom, members of His Church. So, let us accept and feel our Lord as King of our souls. Let us live as His faithful people according to His will. And let us be sure that we will enjoy much greater benefits than those accepted by the more than five thousand people in today’s Gospel.