The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves has always been used to portray God’s boundless love and abundant care. But a bigger miracle may lie hidden in the story. After hearing Jesus speak, the people probably felt more generous and more loving, willing to share whatever it is they had. And sharing whatever they had, there was enough food for everyone, with twelve wicker baskets to spare.
This is the miracle that the world is looking for today. There is enough food on the planet to feed everyone so that no one should go hungry. But why would some people eat in one meal more than enough to feed a whole family for a week elsewhere? Why would some countries rather store or even destroy their harvest, just because the prices for such commodities in the world market are low? Why should some people be denied access to food because of the color of their skin or their sexual orientation or their racial or cultural origins? It will truly be a miracle when love and brotherhood will overcome greed and selfishness so that hunger will forever be banished.
The earth produces enough material resources to provide clothing and shelter for everyone. There is no reason why anyone should be homeless or naked. But why would some people live in such ostentatious opulence when billions live in hovels and shanties? Why would some people splurge money on one dress that could keep hundreds comfortably clothed for a year? Why would thousands be kept in modern-day slavery to build the palaces and mansions of the rich? It will truly be a miracle when people shall have learned to share the earth’s bountiful resources not through the law of supply and demand but through the law of love and compassion.
How can such extravagant affluence exist side by side with shameful destitution? What kind of a system is it that would allow, tolerate and even extol someone with billions of dollars to his name when billions of people live on barely a dollar a day? It would indeed the greatest of miracles when men shall have overcome greed, selfishness and hatred to be able to live together in loving care, sharing the fruits of the earth with everyone.
This is what we are all deeply longing for:
Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
Come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life. (Isaiah 55:1-3)
Might this be the real meaning of the miracle of the multiplication of the bread?
The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs. Psalm 145
Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.