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The Feeding of the Multitude

Submitted by on Sunday, 31 July 2011No Comment


  • Reading I:  Isaiah 55:1-3
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
  • Reading II: Romans 8:35.37-39
  • Gospel Reading: Matthew 14:13-21

There are a few notable things in today’s gospel reading: Jesus has just heard about the Baptist’s death and has gone away for a bit of privacy. Perhaps he was sad and wished to be alone. Matthew does not say. Inspite of his desire to be alone however he does not refuse the crowds who came to him for healing. Bereavement does not prevent Jesus from doing his work of healing. He looks beyond his own tears and sees the sufferings of the crowd "and he hath compassion on them". Makes one think of the petty excuses one makes to avoid people asking for help. In the end, Jesus even feeds the multitudes that came to him.

The death of the Baptist was an announcement of Jesus’ own death. Jesus mourning over the death of the prophet also became the occasion for the feeding of the multitude. Is this Matthew’s way of relating the Eucharist to the death of Jesus? To feed is to give life. Jesus feeds the multitude while he mourns the death of the Baptist. Isn’t the Eucharist a proclamation of the death of Jesus until he comes in glory? Whatever Matthew’s intention in rewriting the Marcan narrative so as to closely link the death of John and Jesus’ feeding the multitude, the fact is worth noting.

Isaiah 55:1-3
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
1All you that thirst, come to the waters: and you that have no money make haste, buy, and eat: come ye, buy wine and milk without money, and without any price.
2Why do you spend money for that which is not breed, and your labour for that which doth not satisfy you? Hearken diligently to me, and eat that which is good, and your soul shall be delighted in fatness.
3Incline your ear and come to me: hear and your soul shall lire, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the faithful mercies of David.
Romans 8:35
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
35Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword?
Matthew 14:13-21
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
13Which when Jesus had heard, he retired from thence by boat, into a desert place apart, and the multitudes having heard of it, followed him on foot out of the cities.
14And he coming forth saw a great multitude, and had compassion on them, and healed their sick.
15And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying: This is a desert place, and the hour is now past: send away the multitudes, that going into the towns, they may buy themselves victuals.
16But Jesus said to them, They have no need to go: give you them to eat.
17They answered him: We have not here, but five loaves, and two fishes.
18He said to them: Bring them hither to me.
19And when he had commanded the multitudes to sit down upon the grass, he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes.
20And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up what remained, twelve full baskets of fragments.
21And the number of them that did eat, was five thousand men, besides women and children.

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