Matthew 15:29-37 (Full Reading)
...Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them off hungry, they might collapse on the way.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this deserted place to feed such a crowd?’ Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said ‘and a few small fish.’ Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves and the fish, and he gave thanks and broke them and handed them to the disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected what was left of the scraps, seven baskets full.
The story of the miraculous feeding performed by Jesus may be a very familiar one for many Christians; it is repeated in other gospels and it shows the concerns and love of Jesus for his followers as well as his authority over the laws of nature – out of few loaves of bread and small fish he feeds a multitude of people in a way quite impossible for anyone else to do.
But instead of taking the story just as face value, I wonder whether we can see ourselves as characters in it. We are followers of Jesus, so we are not much different from the hungry people described in our reading. We too hunger; we too get tired and weary; we too sometimes may find it hard to journey after Jesus – keeping up with him. Then, it is about us that Jesus says, ‘I do not want to send them off hungry, they might collapse on the way.’ (Matthew 15:32) Jesus wants to provide food for the way for us as well lest we get too weak to follow him.
Jesus gives us the miraculous food of the Eucharist we receive at the Mass: his Body and his Blood. Do not try to go without it, or as Jesus says, we ‘might collapse on the way’. Through the hardships we may face or the grinding routines we may feel trapped in, the Eucharist becomes for us a source strength, life, and love. So let us make it a priority to approach this food Jesus freely gives us as often as possible.