Today’s Gospel is the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 people.
It is estimated that 690 million people go hungry in our world. Evidence from relevant bodies indicates that the Covid-19 pandemic – alongside ongoing conflicts, inequality and the climate crisis – has undermined further an already broken food system, leaving millions of people, according to the UN, one step away from starvation.
Writing in Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis says that “world politics needs to make the effective elimination of hunger one of its foremost and imperative goals”. The pope continues: “When financial speculation manipulates the price of food, treating it as just another commodity, millions of people suffer and die from hunger. At the same time, tons of food are thrown away. This constitutes a genuine scandal. Hunger is criminal; food is an inalienable right”.
When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” knowing full-well what he was going to do.
The language of today’s Gospel is clearly Eucharistic – Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed them. The sacred dynamic operating in the Eucharist is vertical, towards God, and, at the same time horizontal, towards our sisters, brothers and all of creation.
The bread of the Eucharist and daily bread are all of a piece. Is Jesus asking us today to have new eyes for those in need, especially the people who are going hungry, and to commit ourselves to doing something more about it?
The words of Saint Pope John Paul II are especially apt here. “We cannot delude ourselves: by our mutual love and, in particular, by our concern for those in need we will be recognised as true followers of Christ. This will be the criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged”.