Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
8th Sunday of Matthew Gospel Reading
In this Gospel passage, Christ has been followed by a large crowd, and the disciples believe that there is no way to feed all the people present. Christ then takes two fish and five loaves of bread and multiplies them, feeding the people with twelve baskets left to spare.
When Christ heals the sick among the crowd (v 14), He does not test their faith as He usually does by asking whether they wish to be cured. By following Christ into the wilderness straight after the beheading of John the Baptist, without even bringing food with them, the crowd have shown their faith.
We must also remember how unexpected the miracle of the loaves was. St John Chrysostom remarks that even though the disciples had seen Christ heal the sick, they did not believe that He could feed so many. This was the source of the disciples’ concern (v 17).
A key question which arises is why Christ looked up to heaven (v 19) before performing this miracle, when many greater ones, such as the raising of the dead, were accomplished without visible prayer. He did this for many reasons, primarily to highlight His oneness with the Father and to make clear the need for prayer before meals.
His final act in this passage is to dismiss the disciples (v 22). St John Chrysostom states that the purpose of this was to hide the miracle from the multitudes, remembering that the food was multiplied in front of the disciples only (v 19). This need for privacy stems from Christ’s humility and from Christ’s desire to pray alone afterwards. By dismissing the disciples and the crowd, Christ can pray privately, and shows that we too must remove anything that will stop us from communing with God, our Father in Heaven, in prayer, from the depths of our being.
Source: Lychnos August / September 2017