Jesus has just heard about the death of His cousin and His precursor St John the Baptist. He has his head chopped off because Herodias retaliates to being told by St John the Baptist that she and Herod are committing adultery as Philip is her husband and not Herod and therefore, they violate God’s commandments. St John the Baptist pays the price for defending God’s laws and speaking out in truth, in full awareness of the consequences. He is both courageous and faithful.
Jesus is upset and wants to go to a lonely place to be with his Apostles to pray and recollect in response to this sad news. Jesus shows here his humanity and his human needs. However, the crowd second guess where Jesus is heading for and arrive there before Jesus and his Apostles. Jesus is moved with compassion and ministers to His people.
After feeding the people spiritually through His preaching and teaching, Jesus miraculously feeds the 5000 gathered with the meagre sum of 5 loaves and two fish. This miracle is also an anticipation of the Eucharist and we see that in the same series of verbs that St Matthew uses which are found in the Last Supper, taking, blessed, broken, gave.
Jesus also uses the Apostles as He feeds the people through their hands, pointing forward to their role as future priests who will give the bread of life, the Eucharist to the people of God. Finally, in the collection of 12 baskets of left overs, we remember that what God provides is always enough and what He gives truly satisfies us. We have everything that we need in God and in the gift of the Eucharist.