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Gospel

Friday of the Second Week of Easter
JN 6:1-15

Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 

Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 

Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 

Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 

When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
Gospel citations come from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Reflection

Andrew Robinson ‘17

Of all the powerful mythical creatures J.R.R. Tolkien could have dreamed up in his Lord of the Rings series to undertake the perilous and daunting task of destroying the dark powers of the Ring, he put the destiny of Middle-earth in the hands of Frodo Baggins, a hobbit. Hobbits are distinguished for being diminutive, stout, humble creatures—certainly not archetypal “heroes.”

Perhaps, however, my view of heroism is distorted. After all, God’s plan also seems to be littered with unlikely protagonists. Moses, whose speech impediment makes him an improbable leader, leads the Israelites to the promised land. David, the youngest in his family, begins Jesus’ lineage. Peter, who doubts and denies Jesus, is the rock upon which Jesus builds the Church. Mary, a modest young woman and a virgin, bears the Son of God and plays a central role in salvation history. Then, in today’s Gospel, an anonymous boy with a meager five loaves and two fish allows Jesus to feed a crowd of 5,000.

Confronting the problems we see in our world can seem daunting—much like the task of destroying the Ring or feeding 5,000 people. Crime, global poverty and hunger, terrorism, political strife, and social inequality would certainly take much more than the restrictive “six months’ wages” of this Gospel to solve even in their most localized forms. Well-intentioned as we may be, we can become jaded and cynical about our ability to change things.

Fortunately, God knows we are limited and only asks that we offer what we have—our own five loaves and two fish. In other words, God asks us to commit small acts with an attitude of self-sacrifice. Mary exemplifies this attitude perfectly: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Biblical figures, such as the boy in today’s Gospel, remind us that humility is not the opposite of heroism. Humility does not mean sheepishly submitting to our powerlessness. Rather, Christian humility means acknowledging our reliance on God with confidence that our meager offerings will be multiplied.

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Prayer

Father Thomas Jones, CSC

Lord, you fill the starving with good things, but send the rich away empty. May we hunger for you more than for life itself, and may we always share the blessings we have received with those who hunger still. Amen.

Saint

Sts. Vitalis and Valeria, the husband and wife who both died for professing their faith, pray for us!