The Miracle of The Five Loaves and Two Fish is the only miracle, other than the Resurrection, to be recorded in all four gospels, and with good reason. This powerful story is clearly tied to the Real Presence in that it reminds us of Transubstantiation as ordinary bread and wine is converted, through the Eucharist, into the Body and Blood of Our Lord. In brief, the ordinary becomes extraordinary through the work of Our Lord and feeds His flock. While this miracle’s connection the Eucharist is central and critical, I would like to focus on a different angle to this story.
We are told that the disciples suggested that Christ allow a multitude which had come to be healed and hear Him preach to go into the village to get food but, Christ, paralleling the idea that He Alone is Our Food, told the disciples that they did not have to send the crowd away but should be fed where they were ( which was, in fact, with Christ). Now, at this point, we are told that the disciples told Christ that all they could find were the five loaves and two fish, and many have taken that to mean that the only food present in the crowd were these items supplied by a boy.
I suggest another interpretation. First of all, I find it hard to believe that a crowd of thousands would not include at least some who would bring food along in case of hunger. I understand that Christ mesmerized people with good reason, and that, perhaps, their zeal to hear Him would overtake their common sense of bringing some food along should they need it. However, the sheer number of people makes it difficult for me to believe that every single person would have overlooked this cautionary action. To take it a step further, I find it even harder to believe that, in a crowd of thousands of people who happened to overlook bringing food, the one person who had wisely brought some along happened to be a small boy!
What I find much more plausible, however, is that at least a number, if not many people actually brought food along. If say, 1% brought food, which is still a very low and almost unrealistic percentage, we would still have at least 50 or more people bringing food. Why then, do we only hear of one small boy coming forward with any food to share?
I believe that therein lies a hidden message and lesson of this wonderful story. Many people came to hear Christ thinking only of themselves. They came to be healed, or to hear wonderful things from this Master which would mean something to them, would change their lives in some way. At the risk of being called cynical, I wonder how many came to hear Christ that day thinking “This will be a great chance for me to learn how to love, to serve, and to help others”. I venture to say that more people came to that event with food than came to that same event with the sincere desire to learn how to see Christ in others, to serve others in unselfish love.
If, say, 60 people brought food with them that day, I strongly doubt that most, if any, of them brought enough food to feed many people beyond themselves and their immediate friends or family. For argument’s sake, say that these 60 people brought enough food for 100 people. That would still be far less than what was needed to feed thousands, but certainly much more than five loaves and two fish.
As for these seven items, one might ask why a small boy would bring such an amount. I doubt that he intended to eat all that for himself, regardless of how hungry he was for Christ’s Words! Perhaps he intended to sell some of these items and that is all he could carry? If that was his purpose, then, while resourceful, I suggest that the move might have been foolhardy if not dangerous. Imagine bringing some food to a hungry mob and expecting a peaceful exchange without problems. I also suggest that many of the other 59 who brought food might have intended to sell some if possible. Others, perhaps, were contend to fill their own needs in an “every person for his or herself” attitude.
Regardless of how many brought food or what their ultimate intentions were, it seems that only this small boy was generous enough to offer what little he had. What did Our Lord do with that little? He converted it into much more and fed many people. In effect, He multiplied the efforts of that small boy many times over and turned that boy’s offering into an act of great service to many. What about the food held by those who refused to be so generous? It remained just that, food hidden or kept for a selfish motive which only served the selfish person keeping it.
When we serve Our Lord and place God Alone as our Purpose, He will multiply our efforts many times over in the service of many, and will change lives, including our own, in the process. When we place ourselves and our own interest ahead of God, however, whatever we have will stay the mere selfish possession of a selfish person and have very limited impact on our lives and, ultimately, on our salvation. Keeping God Alone as our Purpose, our Goal, our Mission, then, is a powerful path toward salvation and the kind of loving service that Christ asks us to reflect.
Copyright 2011 Gabriel Garnica