Beyond the Miracle

'After these things, Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee, which is also called the Sea of Tiberias. A great multitude followed him, because they saw his signs which he did on those who were sick. Jesus went up into the mountain, and he sat there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Jesus therefore lifting up his eyes, and seeing that a great multitude was coming to him, said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?" This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that everyone of them may receive a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these among so many?" Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." Now there was much grass in that place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus took the loaves; and having given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to those who were sitting down; likewise also of the fish as much as they desired. When they were filled, he said to his disciples, "Gather up the broken pieces which are left over, that nothing be lost." So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces from the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten. When therefore the people saw the sign which Jesus did, they said, "This is truly the prophet who comes into the world." Jesus therefore, perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force, to make him king, withdrew again to the mountain by himself.'

John 6:1-15

The Gospel in yesterday's Mass tells the story of how Jesus fed about five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. The story a very well-known, but there are two important details that deserves our attention but may easily be overlooked if we are just preoccupied with the miracle Jesus performed. One is that the loaves and fish came from a boy. The question to reflect upon is whether the boy was the only one in five thousand with some food to share. No doubt the boy was very generous, but it was unlikely that no other people, mostly adults as the story implies, had some food with them. It was possible that those who did had chosen to remain silent. If we had been there, would we have behaved like the boy or the other people?

The other detail is that Jesus withdrew to the mountain when he perceived that the people were about to make him king. At the moment when, right after the miracle was performed, he was obviously hailed as hero and sovereign, such soberness and humility was almost as remarkable as the miracle itself. How many people in that situation would and could resist?

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