17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)
Did he, or didn’t he?
Did Jesus actually organize a meal to feed a crowd of 5,000 from just five barley loaves and two fish?
Did Jesus use a child’s contribution as a way to encourage those in the crowd who had some food to share it with those who had none?
Some people are offended by the latter explanation. They claim it undermines the intent of the gospel writer. They claim it weakens Jesus by dismissing the possibility that he actually created a bottomless bread basket and endless fish platter from the five loaves and two fish. Others (including me) disagree. Jesus did create a bottomless bread basket and endless fish platter. He did it by changing the hearts of those who said “I’ve got mine, go get your own” to “I have a little, but I can share it with you.” This was as much a miracle then as it is today.
Like the five barley loaves and two fish the child offered to help feed the multitudes, the humblest offering has the capacity to transform society. Jesus knew this; everyone ate, everyone had their fill, and there were leftovers. There is enough, there is always enough.
(This gospel [John 6:1-15] begins the “Bread of Life” discourse which will be the topic for the next five weeks.)