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John 6:8-9. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”
Tabgha sits on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee. Tradition recognizes it as the site of the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves and two fish, which a boy in the crowd happened to bring along with him, perhaps to sell.
The church at Tabgha is home to a restored ancient mosaic just in front of its altar. It shows a basket of four loaves of bread flanked by two fish. That’s right. There are only four loaves of bread in the basket. Where is the fifth? It is the one on the altar.
The signs of God, in both the healings Jesus did in Galilee and the feeding of the five thousand, are not matters of Jesus acting alone. Each and every sign can only point to God if human beings participate. They are made real in the lives of real people.
That is true of the healings. One often has to participate in order to be made well. It is also true of the feeding. The miracle hinges as much on a boy who happened to come prepared as it does on Jesus who takes what the boy has to offer and multiplies it to the benefit of many.
Today the Church remembers Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, 1153.