Today, I heard a homily that claimed what really happened about the five loaves and two fish, is that bystanders took out food they were hiding under their cloaks and shared it. Jesus’ preaching inspired the melting of selfishness, and this was the true miracle according to this preacher. He went on to justify his reading that this was a miracle of sharing rather than a miracle of multiplication, because:
How many of us would go on a trip away from home for a couple of days without our credit card to provide food and lodging?
If we wouldn’t leave home without making plans for food and lodging then what makes us think these people, in the crowd with Jesus, made no provisions?
Were they any different that us? Therefore, Jesus changed their hearts and they shared all they had with each other. this is the true miracle.
This is appealing to people these days because we lack FAITH. We lack the Faith to believe that Jesus/God can do ANYTHING. So, those who subscribe to this interpretation hope to make the Gospel more palatable to modern men. But the above appeal to reason does not ring true for the following reasons:
1) This passage does not say anywhere that the people had been away from home for more than a day. So the above pastor built his rationale on a false premise. Of course, people then, just like us, make plans to provide for themselves on journeys. But there is nothing in the passage that indicates this was anything other than a day trip. And the parallel passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke indicate that the people could have gone into nearby villages for food and lodging.
Luke 9:12 “and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.”
But Jesus had other plans.
2) There is NO mention that Jesus performed a miracle of convincing people to share. And we would have to believe that the disciple were so stupid and out of touch with their culture that they had no clue the crowd were all hiding food under their cloaks.
3) But the Gospels do say,
Matthew 14:19 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.”
Mark 6:41 “and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all.
Luke 9: 16Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people.
John 6:11 Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.
There is not the whiff of a hint that this is not a supernatural miracle of multiplication of the loaves. The Gospels say Jesus gave the food to the disciples who gave it and kept giving it to the people. Not a single word about the people giving food to each other.
Only one miracle of Jesus is recorded in all four gospels–the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Even the miracles of raising the dead are not recorded in every Gospel. While sharing is a wonderful virtue, it just is not a supernatural miracle. Why was this miracle so important that every Gospel writer included it?
Because this was a prefiguring, on a small scale, of the Eucharistic sacrifice. This is the supernatural miracle of the multiplication of the body and blood of Christ for the faithful at every mass, every day of the year, around the whole wide world; the Mass, the source and summit of our Faith. John, purposely locates this story right before Jesus’ discourse on the necessity of eating His Flesh and drinking His blood in order to have Eternal life.