Fr. Paul D. Scalia: Loaves, Fish, and Shepherds

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*Image: The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes by Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti), c. 1445-50 [The MET, New York]

By Fr. Paul D. Scalia, The Catholic Thing, July 25, 2021

Fr. Paul Scalia is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, VA, where he serves as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy and Pastor of Saint James in Falls Church. He is the author of That Nothing May Be Lost: Reflections on Catholic Doctrine and Devotion and the editor of Sermons in Times of Crisis: Twelve Homilies to Stir Your Soul.


Fr. Paul D. ScaliaOur Lord’s multiplication of the loaves and fish occupies a privileged place in the list of miracles. It is the only one recorded by all four Evangelists and the only one that prompts such a strong response from the crowd: they want to make him king. It points us to the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith. Thus, in this scene our Lord announces the inestimable gift of the Eucharist. In his treatment of the Apostles, He also outlines how the Church’s Shepherds are to continue nourishing us.

Perhaps most significantly, He tests them first: “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He asks this question not because He needs the answer but because Philip and the others need to think about it. The temptation for the Apostles is to rely on human means. As Philip observes, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” Andrew chimes in with the same natural way of thinking: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” These are voices of discouragement because they are voices of worldly thinking. …