The feeding of the five thousand
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - August 2, 2020 - 12:00am

It is now the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time and we thank the Lord that after 15 days of suffering we are now back to a General Community Quarantine (GCQ). However, we must emphasize to our readers that there is still no available vaccine to cure the COVID-19 virus and the only things we learned is to avoid getting it or spreading it through wearing of facemasks, washing of hands, and physical distancing. Today’s gospel reading is very familiar to us as it is the Feeding of the Five Thousand that we read in Matt.14: 13-21.

“13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

“16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

“18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.

“20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”

* * *

I don’t know how many times we have discussed this story. Let’s start with the numbers. As you very well know, the title of this story is the feeding of the five thousand. However two thousand years ago, women were called chattel and children were not recognized until they reached 13 years old when, according to Jewish law, a boy can become accountable and takes his Bar Mitzvah. For girls, its 12 years old. I mention this because this story is really the feeding of more than five thousand people.

This story begins when our Lord Jesus Christ heard that John the Baptizer have been beheaded by King Herod, which is why he went into a solitary place to mourn his loss. However, the popularity of Jesus had grown so much that people followed him across the Sea of Galilee. So when he learned that the people followed him to a deserted place, he knew that his mission cannot wait and therefore he administered the needs of the people, especially the healing of the sick.

Then when it was almost nighttime, the Lord’s disciples asked him to dismiss the people so they could go into the towns to eat. But we read in our gospel story today, “And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.”

What the Lord Jesus was referring to his disciples was when the Israelites left Egypt and went into the desert and, finding no water and food, they cursed Moses for leading them to a place to die saying that at least as slaves in Egypt they always had food and water. This is why God sent them manna from heaven to eat in the desert. This was the story our Lord referred to in the past. But for the future, what we saw was the feeding of the thousands of Christians receiving the Holy Communion or the Holy Eucharist, where the Lord is totally present, body, blood, soul, and divinity.

All the thousands of people must have seen the boy who was selling only five barley loaves of bread and two small fish. But suddenly all of them were eating a miraculous number of bread and fish and they even gathered a lot of uneaten food. What the Lord Jesus has taught us is that faith enables us to see that with the omnipotent God, all things are possible.

GCQ ORDINARY TIME
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