The feeding of the five thousand

The gospel readings from John’s gospel in the Easter season are designed to show us how the risen Christ was experienced among early Christians in their reception of accounts of the life of Jesus which takes form in the fourth Gospel. We look at familiar events sometimes through the new post-Easter lens. The miracle of the feeding of the Five Thousand, today’s gospel reading, is the only miracle of Jesus which is in all four gospels (today John 6: 1-15) – but only John’s version gives us the detail that it took place at the time of Passover (which this year coincided with the Christian Holy Week, so two weeks ago); also only John names disciples in the story (Philip and Simon Peter). It is a miracle which speaks powerfully to us of God’s overwhelming and generous love which we see in the Lord’s ministry; traditionally Christians have also seen this spectacular meal as pointing forward to the Eucharist. So this year perhaps we hear this gospel with poignancy because our joining in the Eucharist is so limited. We should also pray today for those who are deprived of ordinary food and starving, more so than ever because of the pandemic. Perhaps those of us who are dependent on others for bringing us food at this time will learn to treasure it more.

The picture of the meal here is by Marten van Valckenhborch

Fr Ashley

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