“Jesus then took the loaves of bread, gave thanks, and passed them around to those reclining there; He did the same with the dried fish, as much as they wanted.”

The Gospel of John, chapter 6:11

If you have any feel for the economy today, you know that we are in deep trouble. Times are tough and budgets are tight. During times like these, we tend to look a little closer to home, to become a little tight ourselves with what we have to share. Today’s gospel celebrates the wonderful ability of Jesus to “make do,” to find enough to share. In times like our own it is a good idea to take a hint from today’s gospel, to look outward, not inward, and to know that, no matter what, there is always enough to share.

In today’s gospel, Jesus feeds the multitude by multiplying the loaves and fishes. He is also preparing the people to receive the deeper message of his discourse on the bread of life; the living bread come down from heaven; namely, the Eucharist.

Since John is writing to Christians, we can be fairly sure that he intentionally set the reading in a Eucharistic context (The Jewish feast of the Passover was near), making the story of the multiplication of loaves and fishes a sort of forerunner of the Eucharist which John’s readers celebrated regularly.

People who come from large families learn much at their mother’s knee. She was always able to multiply the family’s food, to stretch a meal so as to accommodate one or many more at the table. Today, in large, extended Hispanic families mom’s magic touch comes in mighty handy.

But families teach us more than that. They teach us the necessity of sharing, and sharing not only abundance but whatever little we have. All the teachings of Jesus are born of sharing-sharing hope, faith, love, burdens, and joys; sharing life with one another and with God.

Share the things of life. Soon you will see that you are sharing the very essence of life, yourself. That’s the gift a mother shares with her family. That’s the miracle Jesus shares with us in the Eucharist.

Now is a good time to read, in its entirety, the sixth chapter of John’s gospel. It will not be easy going. John is not obtuse but he is deep. The teaching of Jesus contained in this chapter is most profound, and it makes sense to give it time to sink in.

In the Eucharist, Jesus shares himself with us; the living bread come down from heaven.

Fr. Hugh Duffy

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