The multiplication of the loaves is perhaps the most renowned of all the extraordinary acts of Jesus which we call miracles, since it is found in all four gospels, and in Matthew and Mark we find two separate accounts. The popularity of the tradition is surely due to the similarity between what Jesus does here and what he will do on the night before he dies: he takes the bread, he blesses it, he breaks it and he shares it.
The story can be understood in various ways. Matthew may have in mind that to provide bread for the crowds in ‘a lonely place’ is precisely what God did for the people who wandered with Moses through the desert. For Matthew, Jesus is a new Moses whose teaching and mighty acts surpass those of Moses himself. The story also speaks of Jesus as feeding the hungry, satisfying both material and spiritual need, and providing an example in not sending the people away, as the disciples had suggested.
Most powerfully, however, the story prepares us for the gift of himself which Jesus will give in death, which will be prefigured in the sharing of the last Passover meal. The Eucharist is for us the constant making present of the gift of Jesus to nourish us throughout our lives. ‘Do this in memory of me,’ said Jesus.
Do I endeavour to understand the deeper meaning of the miracles of Jesus?
How does the miracle of the loaves encourage me to value the gift of food?
We pray that the sharing of the Eucharist will teach us to share with those in need.
We pray for those who lack the basic requirements of life, and for a renewed commitment among world leaders to provide food for all.