Jesus, looking up, seeing the large crowd, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”…Philip answered, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” Andrew…said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish”…Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them, also the fish, as much as the people wanted (John 6.5-11, amended; my emphasis)
At daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach…(asking his disciples) “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered, “No.” He said, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” Doing so, they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish….When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish that you have caught.” Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore…Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast,” (and then) took the bread and gave it to them and did the same with the fish (John 21.4-13, amended; my emphasis)
‘Tis a miracle, something unnatural
(aye, supernatural; heaven afoot on earthly pathways)
to multiply fish and bread to feed hungry bodies,
more than filling their empty bellies.
‘Tis, too, a miracle to tell some tired fisherfolk
(who, toiling throughout the night,
at dawn’s light, hauling in empty seines)
where to unfurl and cast,
letting down their nets
that they, vastly, might be filled.
‘Tis more mystery to me how Jesus
(God’s incarnate Word, Lord of all worlds)
to make a miracle requests (requires?) human aid –
5 loaves and 2 fish from a little boy’s meager hand to feed the 5000-band
and though already with breakfast made
bade unto his disciples to “bring some of your fish.”
Ah, I think I see…
Jesus feeds us
to strengthen us with confidence
that he can and will use whate’er we have,
howe’er small in our eyes, to fulfill his will.
Aye, he feeds us to fill others.
Thus, I hear the voice of Jesus calling:
“Give unto Me whate’er thou possess of breath and strength,
whether with open’d hands of gratitude
bearing the gift of life and labor with thou hast received from Me
or e’en with arms shortened
in dread of thy lack
or in greed of fear of loss to thine own use.
Give unto Me whate’er thou possess.
For thy giving is miracle, too, from which I make miracles.”
Feeding the multitudes, Bernardo Strozzi (1581-1644). Note: I particularly like Strozzi’s depiction of the John 6 text, which, of the canonical gospel accounts, is the only one involving a child’s offering of bread and fish for the feast (in Matthew 14.13-21, Mark 6.31-44, and Luke 9.12-17, the disciples provide the bread and fish). For Strozzi portrays that moment Andrew said to Jesus, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish.”
Christ Sharing Breakfast with the Apostles in Galilee, James Tissot (1886-1894)