Jesus’ feeding of 5,000 men and additional women and children is the only miracle (apart from His Resurrection) that is found in all four New Testament Gospels (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:5-15). Having learned that John the Baptist had been killed, Jesus traveled by boat to a solitary place near Bethsaida. The crowds followed Him. When Jesus saw them, He offered them compassion and healed their sick. As sunset approached, the Disciples pressed Jesus to send the crowds away so they could buy themselves food. Instead, after giving thanks to God, our Lord performed His miracle of dividing five loaves of bread and two fish to feed everyone. Twelve baskets of food were left over.
In the icon depicting the feeding of the multitude, we see essential aspects that instruct us whenever we gather for Sunday Lunch. First, notice that Jesus has received an offering from a young boy of five loaves of bread and two fish. Second, He raises them towards Heaven and thanks God for these gifts. Third, having divided the offering, Jesus hands it to His Disciples to distribute. Next, the crowds share and are satisfied. Finally, there is plenty of food left over for future opportunities.
Consider the untapped potential if each of us “followed Jesus” by responding to our Heavenly Father’s will for us to imitate His Son… by feeding the multitude in need easily within our reach. No, we are not called to feed literally with just bread and fish. God trusts us to witness and share His Good News like His miracle. Indeed, His Gospel is overflowing with love, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, illumination, and sanctification leading to our eternal salvation and union with Him. God’s Holy Spirit is within us and guides us and gives us the means to persevere and succeed.
Jesus’ miracle of feeding the crowd reminds us that we have the potential of offering ourselves and our blessings to others. As His children, giving thanks to our Creator for using us as His co-workers is a privilege. It is a natural response to His love. Just like Christ, we are challenged to respond to those in need by distributing His blessings for others to share together. Our Lord exhorts us to remain vigilant and steadfast in our faith that the fruits of our labors will survive and serve as an unforgettable witness and anchor to those in whatever need we find them.
Jesus’ unexpected miracle to so many in His midst reveals how it is possible to share God’s spiritual food while we satisfy our nutritional needs. It is the reason I selected its icon to illustrate this blog called Sunday Lunch. As we journey together and share opportunities to multiply God’s harvest in His world, we must never forget we are not alone.
As we seek to become more like Christ and increase our relationship with Him, may we reinforce our life’s purpose through St. Peter’s assurance to us:
… To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and goodness. Thus He has given us, through these things, His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:1-4)
Each time we gather as brothers and sisters in Christ, His miracle of feeding the multitude is repeated. Jesus told His Disciples, “For where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20) As we gather today at our Sunday Lunch, may we offer ourselves freely to our family and friends. May we express thanksgiving to God for His countless blessings. May His Good News be distributed and shared together. And may the remnants of our divine leftovers be preserved and offered as the basis of God’s will for our future. Amen!