17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
2Kings 4:42-44 II:
1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which
is the Sea of Tiber'i-as.
2 And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did
on those who were diseased.
3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples.
4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.
5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to
him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these
people may eat?"
6 This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.
7 Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread
for each of them to get a little."
8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him,
9 "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what
are they among so many?"
10 Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in
the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he
distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much
as they wanted.
12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up
the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost."
13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from
the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten.
14 When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, "This is
indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!"
15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to
make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
- Today's reading, "the feeding of the five thousand", is the first part
of chapter 6, which also includes two more accounts (pericopes):
"Jesus walks on the sea" and "Jesus, the bread of life." The entire
chapter is titled "Jesus, the Bread of Life."
- This feeding of the five thousand story alludes to the Exodus story:
the Sea of Galilee (v.1), the mountain (v.3), and the multiplying of
the bread, respectively allude to the Dead Sea, Mount Sinai, and
manna. Furthermore, the Jewish Passover (v.4) hints Jesus' upcoming
Passover. Thus, Jesus is replacing the Old Testament way of life.
- Bread was the staple of the Jewish diet. The Old Testament mentions
the unleavened bread, the presence bread, and manna - the bread
from heaven. Bread is seen as life sustaining. The New Testament
states that we "do not live by bread alone" and "Jesus is the bread of
- The Jewish people believe that food is a gift from God; thus, it was
customary, as Jesus did in v. 11, to thank God before meals.
Furthermore, since it is God's gift, the leftover bread fragments should
not be wasted (v.12).
- The multiplying of bread and fish shows Jesus' concern for people's
physical need, but this was not his main concern. The main concern
is that the miracles, or signs, should lead people to deeper faith.
- In verses 14 and 15 the evangelist comments on how people
misunderstand, and see Jesus as the liberating prophet/king.
But that is not his mission! He is the revealer who shows us the
true way of life; he is the suffering Messiah who would die.
One Main Point
Jesus is the Bread of Life.
On one level, Jesus satisfies our physical hunger. On a
deeper level, he is the bread, through which we are led to a deeper
level of faith, to participate in God's life.
- Jesus asks his disciples to gather the leftover bread fragments;
"so they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets." In this
consumer society, we are wasting foods, materials, resources,
and talents. What should we do with the leftover to show our
gratitude to God?
- The five loaves and two fishes can be seen as our cooperation
in Jesus' work. How do we use our God-given talents to help others?
- Jesus is the Bread of Life in the Eucharist. When we receive the
Eucharist, we become one with God. What do you do before and after
receiving the Eucharist?
- From #3, how does receiving the Eucharist help your faith?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community