Luke 9: 11-17

The apostles returned and reported on what they had done. Jesus took them away, off by themselves, near the town called Bethsaida. But the crowds got wind of it and followed. Jesus graciously welcomed them and talked to them about the kingdom of God. Those who needed healing, he healed.

As the day declined, the Twelve said, “Dismiss the crowd so they can go to the farms or villages around here and get a room for the night and a bite to eat. We’re out in the middle of nowhere.”

“You feed them” Jesus said.

They said, “We couldn’t scrape up more than five loaves of bread and a couple of fish – unless, of course, you want us to go to town ourselves and buy food for everybody.” (There were more than five thousand people in the crowd.)

But he went ahead and directed his disciples, “Sit them down in groups of about fifty.”

They did what he said, and soon had everyone seated. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread and fish to the disciples to hand out to the crowd. After the people had all eaten their fill, twelve baskets of left-overs were gathered up.

Gospel Reflection

This miracle is on the grandest of scales but Jesus could have fed these people with a wave of his hand – he didn’t; there were other lessons to learn. Sitting down gives them an opportunity to come to stillness; to reflect on why they are here at all in the heat of the day with rumbling stomachs and parched lips.

And in the waiting, the thoughts go through their minds; their lives so far. What was missing, damaged, what needed to be healed? Remembering, with regret, those whose hearts were hungry because of neglect; others whose dreams lay tattered because their dreams had come first.

Maybe for the first time, seeing themselves revealed; reflecting off the wide azure sky; no winding streets of excuses or dead ends of denial. Saying to themselves ‘This is all I am and who I am is hungry for something more’.

And from nowhere a hand reaches down ‘Eat’. Fresh crumbly barley bread, crisped skin and soft flakes of fish; scent of charcoal, lake water and clay ovens; a bountiful tapestry of golden bronze and cream.

A feast and more that a feast; a promise of more for those who wait; for those who believe; for those who know why they are here.