ORDINARY TIME: 18th SUNDAY – Miracle of Five Loaves and Two Fish

Matthew 14, 13-21


lectionary bible


13  When Jesus received this news he withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But the crowds heard of this and, leaving the towns, went after him on foot.

14  So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them and healed their sick.

15  When evening came, the disciples went to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place, and time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food.’

16  Jesus replied, ‘There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.’

17  But they answered, ‘All we have with us is five loaves and two fish.’

18  So he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’

19  He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing. And breaking the loaves he handed them to his disciples, who gave them to the crowds.

20  They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps left over, twelve baskets full.

21  Now about five thousand men had eaten, to say nothing of women and children.


The New Jerusalem Bible 1985.



The evangelist Matthew writing to early Christians of jewish orgin was concerned how they saw themselves and related to others within Israel.   Starting from his opening lines on the ancestry of Jesus Matthew portraits Jesus as truly a descendant from Israel.  In the passage of the Sunday gospel Matthew presents Jesus as the new Moses.

Rejected by his kinsmen over the death of an Egyptian who struck a Hebrew, Moses went into the territory of Midian [Exo 2].  Later Moses led the people of Israel to pass over the Red Sea into the wilderness where God fed them with manna and quails [Exo 16] in response to their complaints.

Jesus as the new Moses grieved over the brutal death of his cousin and mentor John the Baptist owing to the consolidation of political power at a birthday party.  With his disciples he crossed the Sea of Galilee and went to a deserted place.  In contrast to the palace banquet Jesus shared a meal with the hungry multitudes at the shore of the lake with the miraculous bread and fish.


Matthew often characterized Jesus as the “servant of God” who showed gentle compassion upon the people.  Like the prophets Elijah and Elisha, Jesus — depicted a “holy man” in direct communication with God’s realm — continues to heal the sick [v 14; cf Mat 8, 3f. 17; 12, 17ff], show pity for the crowds [Mat 9, 36; 15, 32], give rest to those who labour and overburdened [Mat 11, 29], and bestow mercy on the blameless [Mat 12, 7].


As the only miracle told in all four gospels [cf Mar 6, 30-44; Luk 9, 10-17; Joh 6, 1-15] this story is of great social significance.   A crowd of 5000 men — not including women and children — in the view of Malina and Rohrbaugh “would have been larger than the entire population of all but a handful of the very largest urban settlements” in Jesus’ time.  


Miracle of  Five Loaves and Two Fish Artist - Sieger Koder

Miracle of Five Loaves and Two Fish                  ArtistSieger Koder 


The four actions of Jesus’ in taking, blessing, breaking, and handing have rich overtones anticipating the Eucharist and the final banquet at the end time of God’s kingdom.  The crowd following Jesus the new Moses into the wilderness resonates with a new exodus representing all Israel, with the twelve baskets of left-over scraps collected denoting the twelve tribes under the twelve disciples as the ministers of the event.

Sources consulted:

Bruce J Malina and Richard L Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels. Fortress Press 2003.

John J Pilch, The Cultural World of Jesus, Sunday by Sunday, Cycle A. The Liturgical Press 1995.  

The New Jerusalem Bible.  Doubleday 1985.





In catechesing adults, adolescents, and children themes derived from the gospel passage could be developed.

Key themes include:

Miracle of multiplying the five loaves and two fish

The Eucharist in God’s saving plan

The Breaking of Bread as one name of the sacament of the Eucharist


Mat 14, 13-21   >  CCC 1335

Eucharist in the economy of salvation  

The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves — and the fish — where Jesus took, blessed, broke, and gave the disciples to distribute prefigure the great abundance of the unique bread of the Eucharist.

Mat 14, 19  >   CCC 1329

Name of the sacrament

Among other names, the sacrament of the Eucharist is called the Breaking of Bread because Jesus used this rite — which is part of  a Jewish meal  as master of the table — to bless and give the bread to be distributed.


Catechism of the Catholic Church, Burns & Oates 2006.





Christ’s words reveal the secret of God, his plan and his promise, and thereby change the heart of all our destiny. But Christ also carries out this proclamation by innumerable signs, which amaze the crowds and at the same time draw them to him in order to see him, listen to him and allow themselves to be transformed by him: the sick are cured, water is changed into wine, bread is multiplied, the dead come back to life.

Paul 6th  Apostolic Exhortation 1975

Evangelization in the Modern World – Evangelii Nuntiandi 11-12



Faithful Choices



With the Pope and the universal Church we pray:

  • That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
  • That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people in that region.             





With peoples of other nations we remember:

9 August   International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

World Day Indigenous Peoples 2014

International Day of the World’s                                     Indigenous Peoples 2014


The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

2014 Theme: “Bridging the gap: implementing the rights of indigenous peoples”


Seeing the needs of refugees and indigenous peoples around

what could my

  • family as a home Chuch and
  • BEC as a neighbourhood Church 

do together to



break, and


in continuing Christ’s work of compassion and mercy?






As I immerse myself into the story of

five loaves and two fish

what in my life do I need to



break, and


in becoming more the disciple Jesus the risen Lord hopes for?