6 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
Back in the 1960’s there were far fewer fast food restaurants, and when my family and I took a long summer road trip my parents could not count on there being a McDonald’s or a Burger King at every exit. Back then, most of the food choices on the road consisted of Truck Stops and diners, and stopping at these places for all of our meals would soon leave us broke, so my mother would pack sandwiches and snacks and load them into the cooler, packed away in the back of whatever station wagon we were driving at the time. Instead of stopping at a restaurant to eat, we would either have our meals on the road, or pull into a rest-stop and set up a picnic at one of the tables there.
I have kept this tradition going with my own daughter. When we were taking trips across the country, we often eschewed the fast food restaurants ourselves and snacked along the way, helping ourselves to juice and soda, cookies, chips and fruit along the way. This seemed to make sense, as it saved time and money.
For the people of Jesus’ time it was all the more necessary to bring along food and drink while traveling, as their choices were very limited to a few inns scattered here and there along the way, some open-air markets in the villages they passed through and maybe the kindness of a stranger, or fellow traveler. The people who came to hear Jesus preach on that mountainside that day had traveled a long way to hear him, and therefore it is not too much to assume that many brought food along with them, to sustain them on their journey.
Jesus knew that after a long day of sitting in the sun and listening to him preach, that the people
were going to be hungry, and asked his disciples to find a way to feed them, a seemingly impossible task for a group that could hardly feed themselves. As the disciples struggled to answer Jesus’ call to feed the crowds, perhaps they asked the crowd for help, but the only one who answered was the boy who offered all he had, five loaves of hard bread and two dried fish, and yet, somehow this single act of generosity enabled all to be fed!
This is acknowledged to be one of the great miracles of Jesus: the feeding of the 5000, when a small amount of food was enough to feed a multitude, with plenty left-over! However, I believe that the true miracle was not that Jesus used some sort of magic to make the loaves and fish last, but that his preaching on the power of God’s love in the world, and the act of generosity shown by the child, inspired others to share what they had with their neighbors, until all were fed to satisfaction!
As we travel the road of life, we too bring along what we need to survive: our talents, strengths, compassion and faith. We all have qualities that can help us meet the challenges of life, but they are different for everyone, as we each have some things we are better at than others. This is also true for our journey as single parents, as none of us are perfect, and none of us have all the answers, and can find ourselves facing a challenge we simply don’t have the tools to handle. This is where the good news of today’s Gospel comes to us: as through this story we too are inspired to share all we have with those who travel with us through life, and through our time as single parents.
Jesus calls upon us to share our experience, strength and hope in order to support each other as we face the many challenges of being a single parent. We can use what we have learned to help others to rise up after they have fallen short, and to even prevent some from falling into the same pitfalls we have faced. We can share our hope with each other that bad times do not last, and that any crisis or mistake can be faced, survived and learned from…and that we don’t have to do it alone! We can share the talents we have with others, just as they can share with us, when our toolbox is empty!
The good news is that as we travel this road, we do not travel alone, and never have to go hungry, as when we work together in faith, we are walking together in the light of God’s love, and this give us more than we need for the journey!
Let us Pray:
Dear God, thank you for sharing your love with us through Christ. Help us to follow his example by sharing what we have with others: our time, talents and faith. Let us also accept the gifts that others share with us, remembering that what we do not have the strength to face on our own we can face together, as throughout our journey we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus, in the light of the Resurrection.