17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 29th July, 2018

Liturgical Reflection

2 Kings 4:42-44   Ephesians 4:1-6   John 6:1-15


Feeding the Five Thousand

In last week’s Gospel we read from Mark that so vast were the crowds pursuing Jesus and the Apostles that they were unable to escape to a quiet place.  Undeterred, Jesus is moved with pity “for they were like sheep without a shepherd”.  Today we begin a series of readings from John that proceed from the feeding of the five thousand to Jesus declaring that he is the “bread of life”.  In the first Reading the prophet Elisha trusts totally in God’s loving power when he asks his servant to distribute twenty barley loaves and miraculously a hundred people are fed.  How apt is the Responsorial Psalm today:

“The hand of the Lord feeds us, he answers all our needs.”

When Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee and goes up the mountain to be with his disciples, John tells us that a large crowd followed him because “they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.”  Whether these people were hoping to witness more miracles or just to receive something for themselves, again Jesus has compassion on them.  Jesus is concerned about their hunger and the young man with the five barley loaves and two fish ( which could feed two people, not five thousand) provides the answer!  It is to be noted that Jesus really gets involved himself, for “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and as much of the fish as they wanted.”  Five thousand are fed that day and twelve baskets of fragments are left over.  Jesus uses what is available to meet very human needs.  As Dianne Bergant reminds us “God meets the needs of people through the services provided by members of the community.” (The Word For Every Season)


It is to our shame that millions of men, women and children in our world are still experiencing extreme poverty, hunger and displacement from their birthplace.  Almost nightly our media give us graphic photos of desperate refugees escaping bombardment, persecution or waterless homelands!  These suffering people are my brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • How do I respond to these tragedies?
  • What more can I resolve to do?

Denise Sullivan OP