Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Jesus has just heard the news about the death of his cousin, John the Baptist. He responds by withdrawing to a quite place. People handle grief differently. Some want to be alone and some want to be surrounded by friends - Jesus wanted to be alone. Yet his fame would not allow an extended time of grieving alone. This is the context of his compassion. From the depths of his grief Jesus heals hurting people and then does an amazing miracle.
Interesting how Jesus works the miracle of the fishes and the loaves. For everyone to eat a few people had to give Jesus all of their food. The disciples wanted to send the crowds away.. they only had enough food for themselves.. but Jesus wanted them to let go of the safety of their food. I think that there is a message for us in this story. Miracles and compassion can be released in the midst of grief when we let go of our fishes and loaves.
Lord, help me to let go of my fishes and loaves.