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Today’s Reading: Mark 6:30-44
30 The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. 34 As he landed he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the hour is now late; 36 send them away, to go into the country and villages round about and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39Then he commanded them all to sit down by companies upon the green grass. 40So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
The miracle of the loaves looks both to the past and to the future.
(1) It recalls miraculous feedings from the OT, like the heavenly manna God provided for Israel in the wilderness (Ex 16) and the multiplied loaves and leftover baskets provided by Elisha (2 Kings 4:42-44).
(2) It also anticipates the later institution of the Eucharist, where the same string of verbs (taking . . . blessed . . . broke . . . gave) is found together, something that occurs only here and at the Last Supper.
Gave them to the disciples: Jesus does not give the multiplied bread directly to the crowds but distributes it to them by the hands of his apostles. This mediation foreshadows their role as New Covenant priests, when they apportion to God’s people the heavenly bread that Jesus provides in the Eucharist.