Commentary on the Gospel of
John 6:1-15 This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!
make the people sit down
Gather up the fragments left over
We begin to read from our Lord’s long discourse on the Bread of life, beginning from feeding the multitude. As is His teaching custom, the Lord Jesus moves the minds from the known to the revealed truth! In this particular episode, he shows his care about others’ wellbeing, taking the initiative by noticing the people’s need to be fed – questioning where bread could be gotten to alleviate their hunger.
And his next directive was: ‘make the people sit down’. What a way of showing hospitality! Get people relaxed. Most often what nourishes the recipient is not just the lump of food consumed, but the love, the friendliness with which the food is presented and shared. Once my colleague was asked what made him look so refreshed, and his quick response was: ‘I eat food cooked with love.’ Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us that compassion is transmitted to others in love. He teaches us that ours is charity – sharing in love, not just philanthropy, not just humanism! Christian charity enhances our fraternity as fellow human beings and closeness to God.
Furthermore, our Lord cautions us on wasteful spending! ‘Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost,’ he commands. The gap between the rich and the poor keeps widening – while the rich and their allies waste their excesses, throw them away; the really poor do not even have a day’s meal to sustain them! Like the Lazarus of the parable in the Gospel according to St. Luke, the very needy ones long for what falls off from the rich people’s table but cannot get. The presence of the poor around the garbage bins, scrambling for ‘thrown away items’ tell the story better. Our Lord in this episode reminds us that our extras can always meet the demands of the needy ones around us – what we really need is sensitivity to others’ plight and becoming compassionate towards them. We need a rethink that enables us to see the plight of our fellow human being as cause for our own sacrifices: ‘the one suffering is my brother or sister too, in spite of who or where they come from. O Lord, help us to always reach out in love.