“At that time, when Jesus went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to Him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish He looked up to Heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Then Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds.” St. Matthew 14:14-22
This miracle is recorded in all Four Gospels taking place near the end of our Lord Jesus’ earthly ministry. It is after the beheading of John the Baptist. The crowds are still with Him and this crowd today is enormous. There are, according to St. Matthew, 5,000 men plus women and children. What do we learn about this crowd?
The crowd is sacrificial: They have followed Christ into a lonely place and now are without food. They are relying on him for survival. They are devoted. As long as they can be with Christ that is all that matters. They are with Him wherever He is. They have set aside their own plans to follow Him. They are like Jesus in this way. He has two wills: human and divine. But these two wills are never at odds He always submits to the Father. You simple cannot imagine Jesus saying, “I need some me time.” And here is the thing, the Lord is always asking for us to sacrifice more and almost never less. He will push them right up to, “Take up your cross and follow me.” He is not trying to punish them. It is just that “sacrifice” is the name of the game.
The crowd is in need of compassion and love: Jesus is healing their sick out of compassion. But His compassion doesn’t end with healing their bodies. It is right to say that this is the beginning of the compassion He intends to show. He heals their bodies. AND He feeds them body and soul. What does He feed them? Himself. Nice, huh?
The crowd is in need of a blessing on what little they have: We see Jesus fulfilling His High Priestly role. He takes the five loaves and two fish, and looks up to Heaven in thanksgiving (In Greek, Eucharisteo) for a blessing. Not only do we ask a blessing on our food. But we ask a blessing on everything. I know of people struggling with their health. People are struggling with job loss and losing their homes. We have little but we are greatly blessed at the same time.