FEEDING OF THE 4,000

Saturday, 5th Week in Ordinary Time             

            Mark’s account of the feeding of the 4,000 is basically the same as the earlier story of the feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6:35-44). It is different, however, in some very important ways. The first account among the 5,000 took place in Jewish territory. This one took place among the Gentiles. Some biblical scholars believe that Mark retold the same story in a different way to teach his readers about the mission of Jesus to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews.

            Allow me to use the commentary of Leo Zanchettin on this passage… “In this story, the disciples had less to do with the miracle than in the earlier version where Jesus challenged them to perform the miraculous (Mark 6:37).” “In the second feeding narrative, Jesus took it upon himself to provide his people with the bread they needed to emphasize more clearly how people are totally dependent upon him.” “The disciples had witnessed the earlier miracle, yet they asked, ‘How can one feed these men with break here in the desert?’” “This seeming contradiction (the disciples would have known the answer having been present at the first feeding) occurs because Mark wanted, once again, to point his readers to Jesus as the one who provides for all their needs.”

            Jesus’ starting point is not the little bit of food available; rather, it is the people before him and their needs. He is not so much concerned about material objects, cultural treasures or lofty ideas. He is concerned with people. Jesus takes what is available, and he offers it to God for a blessing – a sign that he knows that everything is God’s gift. (Pope Francis)

            The account of the multiplication of loaves and fish has Eucharistic significance. Clearly, the Eucharist is the ultimate intent of the miracle.

            Pope Francis said at the opening Mass for the Bolivia’s National Eucharistic Congress, “The Eucharist is a missionary sacrament.” “It calls people to give all they are and have to God, seek his blessing and then take his love to the world.” According to the Holy Father, Jesus’ command to “do this in memory of me” demands exchange, encounter and genuine solidarity. It demands the logic of love.

            Pope Francis also said that the Eucharist is “a sacrament of communion,” which draws us out of our individualism in order to live as disciples. It gives us certainty that all that we have, all that we are, if it is taken, blessed and given, can, by God’s power, by the power of love, become bread of life for all.

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