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Bible reflection: The feeding of the five thousand

Staff  |  31 July 2019

Monday, 5 August  
Matthew 14:13-21

The feeding of the five thousand

When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist’s death he withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But the people heard of this and, leaving the towns, went after him on foot. So, as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them and healed their sick.

When evening came, the disciples went to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place, and the time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they answered ‘All we have with us is five loaves and two fish.’ ‘Bring them here to me’ he said. He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing. And breaking the loaves handed them to his disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps remaining; twelve baskets full. Those who ate numbered about five thousand men, to say nothing of women and children.

Questions and reflections

Can you see Jesus, saddened by the death of his cousin and friend John the Baptist? His reaction to his grief is to be quiet with his friends. How have you coped with grief of a loved one? Sometimes there’s a need to be alone, sometimes it helps to spend time reminiscing with others about the good and bad times.

Jesus doesn’t stay lone for long though as the crowds follow him and he ‘takes pity on them’ and heals the sick. Does work or usual activities act as a solace in grief?

The parable is known as the feeding of the 5000. How do we know that it was lot more than 5000 people who were fed?

Despite his grief Jesus was generous with his time and gifts. How are you generous with your time and gifts?

Gospel reflection (from

‘We have nothing but five loaves and two fish.’

Jesus saw the large crowd and took pity on them. Grant us the generosity to respond to people in their need, rather than to judge them for being needy. When I am impatient with others because of their slowness, their inefficiency, their failures, touch my heart and enable me to see beyond myself and my demands or expectations.

Your Son said, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ Our society places great emphasis on ‘achievement’ and looks with contempt on those who do not make it. Lord Jesus, fill my heart with your Holy Spirit and send me out with compassion for the people I will meet today.

Image: Getty 



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