Tuesday after Epiphany, Jan 5

1 John 4:7-10 / Mark 6:34-44 

Jesus feeds the crowd: Twelve baskets of leftovers remained.

There's only one miracle of Jesus that is reported by all four evangelists. It is the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Mark's description of the miracle is especially vivid. He describes the hungry people sitting "on the green grass in groups or parties" and "neatly arranged like flower beds." (NAB. 1970)

Mark also describes the 12 disciples going around with 12 wicker baskets, collecting the leftover food. Why did this miracle make such an impression on the evangelists? Perhaps it's because it foreshadowed the Eucharist, which after 2,000 years is still at the heart of all Christian worship.


How has our own appreciation of the Eucharist changed over the years? "If God were to appear to starving people, he would not dare appear in any form other than food." Mohandas Gandhi


 Here comes the great theme of the apostle John, almost like an obsession, both in his letter and in the gospel: God is the origin of all love. For he is love: a love that is giving, a love, as the gospel shows, that is compassionate. Self-communication is the mark of love: within God, from God to people and the world. He gives us his Son, who showed in his person that to love is to give up oneself out of love. And on the part of people, love means also to receive, to be willing to accept love as a pure gift, both from God and from one another. 

The story of the loaves and fish has been heard so often that we might think it needs little retelling. But there is a single verse in the reading from the letter of John that gives meaning to the Gospels as a whole. “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might five through him.”


Generally speaking, we have two types of reactions to a situation. Either we react to it emotionally, or we react to it rationally. When Jesus saw the large crowd, He took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and He set Himself to teach them at some length. It was understandable that Jesus felt for the people, or if we wish to say, He acted from His emotions. But it went to the extent that He ignored the rationality of feeding the crowd of 5000 with five loaves and two fish. 

His disciples seemed to be more rational, especially when it was going to cost them 200 days' wages, since the average wage for a day was 1 denarius. But Jesus challenged His disciples to gather what was available. And from what was available, out came a miracle. Essentially, today's gospel passage continues the Epiphany message that God is our Helper and Provider. 

Yet like the disciples, we often use too much of our rationality. But what the Lord is asking of us is our availability. To serve the Lord is to make our hearts available for Him. Hence, we have to feel the promptings, especially the challenges the Lord is giving us, just like He challenged His disciples when He told them: Give them something to eat yourselves. 

It is not so much our rationality that matters when we serve the Lord, but rather our availability for Him to do great wonders through us.



Lord God, our Father, you took the initiative of loving us before we could ever love you, for love is your name and you are a God of people. Help us to recognize this love become flesh in Jesus your Son. Let him stir and transform the very depths of our hearts, that we too may offer to you and to people all the love of which you have made us capable through Jesus Christ our Lord.