The feeding of the people in the Old Testament illustrates God’s concern for them: Moses fed the hungry Israelites in the desert (Ex 16), Elisha satisfied a hundred men with 20 barley loaves (2 Kgs 4:42-44), and Isaiah foretold a time when God would prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples on the holy mountain (Is 25:6). Jesus multiplies five loaves and two fish to feed the hungry crowd, recalling the prophetic actions of old. But the feeding of the crowd prefigures the Eucharist; Jesus will repeat his words and gestures at the Last Supper. At the same time, it looks forward to the eternal banquet in heaven where God will satisfy all human longings.
Gospel • Mt 14:13-21
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” He said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.