To what lengths will Jesus go to meet us personally, to encounter us face to face? The feeding of the five thousand is such a well-known story with its Eucharistic overtones and rich symbolism. One detail, however, tends to get missed: “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining.” Wouldn’t a buffet counter have been so much more efficient? Couldn’t he have asked the people to help themselves and pass it on? Or delegated the distribution to his disciples. But that would have defeated one of his chief purposes, wouldn’t it?

Jesus is not simply interested in feeding the people. He wants to meet each one for himself. So he distributes the food—personally—to each of the people there. Five thousand people (not counting women and children) represent not just five thousand stomachs to fill but ten thousand hands to receive, ten thousand eyes to look into, five thousand hearts to touch. Jesus did not have to feed the people. Hunger, for a few hours or even several, might be inconvenient and uncomfortable but hardly life-threatening. But how else could he have met each of the people there!

To what lengths will he go to meet each of us today!

Fr. Charles Rodrigues, S.J., Associate Novice Director at the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Alberto Hurtado, St. Paul, MN. For more information on Jesuit vocations, click here.