Elisha used the 20 barley loaves, prepared from the first fruits, brought by a farmer. First fruits were the prescribed offering for God alone. (Leviticus 2:12) To present these to the prophet underscored his position as a man of God. God worked with him. He became God’s instrument in feeding the hungry.
Throughout the gospels we notice Jesus’ concern for the people. Today, John 6:1-15, we come across one incident where he satisfies the spiritual and physical hunger of the people. People were familiar with the signs Jesus performed for the sick. He healed the sick. They were hungering for the word of God. He notices in them their physical hunger too. Realizing their immediate need he suggests to Philip: “where to get food for the people to eat.” That was his concern. Did e expect from Philip a solution for the problem? Probably not. He was creating awareness, in preparation to solving the problem. Not just one problem but problems of people at all times! He continues to satisfy the hunger of the people by providing the ‘Bread of Life’.
All four gospels relate the episode of the feeding of the crowd but only John called it a “sign.” John devotes five chapters to the last supper but makes no mention of the institution of the Eucharist, which the three synoptic gospels do. John, however, has a long discourse of the bread of life. And what precedes that discourse is the story of the feeding of the multitude that we heard today.
The language used by John and the procedure in this event are very much like the language, and the procedure the priest uses at the consecration of the Masses. He took bread in his hands, gave thanks and distributed to the people. There, is in other words, a clear link between the feeding of the hungry multitude. Jesus continues to provide the “Bread of Life.” Let us be eager to participate in it with understanding and gratitude. Jesus is the Bread of Life.