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Friday of the Second Week of Easter – The reading is from Gospel of John 6:1-15

The Miracle of the Bread and Fish by Giovanni Lanfranco, 1620-23

#1 – Multiplication of the Loaves:

The Feeding of the Five Thousand – John 6:1-15

After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee [of Tiberias].

A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.

Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.

The Jewish feast of Passover was near.

When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”

He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit].”

One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”

Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”

Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.

Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.

When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”

So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.

When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”

Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

This is the only miracle story found in all four gospels. This occurrs twice in Mark and Matthew.

#2 – Multiplication of the Loaves:

The Feeding of the Five Thousand – Matthew 14:13-21


When Jesus heard of it, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.

When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”

[Jesus] said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”

But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”

Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.

They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full.

Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

Most probably the following narration “The Feeding of the Four Thousand” in Matthew 15:32-39 is a doublet of that of “The Feeding of the Five Thousand” in Matthew 14:13-21 given above.

#3 – Multiplication of the Loaves:

The Feeding of the Four Thousand – Matthew 15:32-39

Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.”

The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?”

Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”

He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.

They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets full. Those who ate were four thousand men, not counting women and children.

And when he had dismissed the crowds, he got into the boat and came to the district of Magadan.

This second version of the story in Matthews differs from the first version notably only in that Jesus takes the initiative, not the disciples:

  • Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.” (Matthew 15:32)

and in the numbers:

  • the crowd has been with Jesus three days (Matthew15:32),
  • seven loaves are multiplied (Matthew 15:36),
  • seven baskets of fragments remain after the feeding (Matthew 15:37),
  • and four thousand men are fed (Matthew 5:38).
And here are the versions of the story by Mark:

#4 – Multiplication of the Loaves:

The Feeding of the Five Thousand – Mark 6:34-44

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.”

But they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?”

He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”

And when they had found out they said, “Five loaves and two fish.”

So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass.

The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties.

Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to [his] disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all.

They all ate and were satisfied. And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish.

Those who ate [of the loaves] were five thousand men.

#5 – Multiplication of the Loaves:

The Feeding of Four Thousand – Mark 8:1-10

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, he summoned the disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.”

His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?”

Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”

“Seven,” they replied.

He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.

Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd.

They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also.

They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets.

There were about four thousand people.

He dismissed them and got into the boat with his disciples and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

This is the version of the story of “The Feeding of the Five Thousand ” from Luke:

#6 – Multiplication of the Loaves:

The Feeding of the Five Thousand – Luke 9:11-17

The crowds, meanwhile, learned of this and followed him. He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured.

As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.”

He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.”

They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.”

Now the men there numbered about five thousand.

Then he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of [about] fifty.”

They did so and made them all sit down.

Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.

They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.

As I said before and as we have read afore, “Multiplication of the Loaves” also known as “The Feeding of the Multitudes” is the only miracle of Jesus that is recounted in all four gospels. The principal reason for that may be that it was seen as anticipating the Eucharist and the final banquet in the kingdom:

I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven,(Matthew 8:11)

I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.” (Matthew 26:29)

This verses remind us of the miracle of feeding of Israel with manna in the desert at the time of the Exodus, (See Exodus Chapter 16).

It may also be meant to recall Elisha’s feeding a hundred men with small provisions:

The Barley Loaves – 2 Kings 4:42–44

A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing the man of God twenty barley loaves made from the first fruits, and fresh grain in the ear.

Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.”

But his servant objected, “How can I set this before a hundred?”

Elisha again said, “Give it to the people to eat, for thus says the LORD: You will eat and have some left over.”

He set it before them, and when they had eaten, they had some left over, according to the word of the LORD.

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