Fr. Jim Martin speculates:

The Very Poorly Prepared Crowd

1. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve apostles came to Jesus and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” 2 But Jesus said to them, “Why not give them something to eat?” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.”  3 For there were about five thousand men. And Jesus said to his disciples, “You know what?  You’re right.  Don’t waste your time and shekels.  It would be positively immoral for you to spend any of your hard-earned money for these people.  They knew full well that they were coming to a deserted place, and should have relied on themselves and brought more food.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s every five thousand men for themselves.”  4. The disciples were astonished by this teaching.  “But Lord,” said Thomas.  “The crowd will surely go hungry.”  Jesus was amazed at his hard-headedness.  “That’s not my problem, Thomas.  Better that their stomachs are empty than they become overly dependent on someone in authority to provide loaves and fishes for them on a regular basis.  Where will it end?  Will I have to feed them everyday?”  “No, Lord,” said Thomas, “Just today.  When they are without food.  After they have eaten their fill, they will be healthy, and so better able to listen to your word and learn from you.”  Jesus was grieved at Thomas’s answer.  Jesus answered, “It is written: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  So taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and took one loaf and one fish for himself, and gave the rest to the twelve, based on their previously agreed-upon contractual per diem.  But he distributed none to the crowd, because they needed to be taught a lesson.  So Jesus ate and he was satisfied.  The disciples somewhat less so.  “Delicious,” said Jesus.  What was left over was gathered up and saved for Jesus, should he grow hungry in a few hours.  The very poorly prepared crowd soon dispersed.

More here.

(H/T: Chris R.)

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