The Explanation: The Lord gave the loaves to His disciples to honour them for their closeness to Him, and also that they might not forget the miracle at which their hands had ministered. And they did all eat and were filled. Earlier Christ had filled them with spiritual food, teaching them and speaking to them of the kingdom of God; now He fills them with physical food as well; but not only that. By having the people recline on the grass He teaches them the wisdom of humility; in giving them nothing other than bread and fish He guides them to abstinence, and by distributing the same to all He gives them a lesson in equality. And they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. After Christ had broken the five loaves, He gave them out, and the pieces were multiplied in the disciples’ hands. A wondrous miracle! The bread lasted until all the multitude had been filled, and even exceeded what was needed. There were twelve baskets full of fragments remaining, so that the twelve Apostles would each carry a basket; their shoulders as well as their hands became servants and witnesses of the miracle. (Christ) also divided the fishes among them, and from these also the Apostles gathered up leftovers. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. This shows the great extent of the miracle, and the fact that the people followed Christ together with their wives and children is to their great credit. Since they came as families, whole families partook of the blessing. That the disciples might fix the miracle in their memory, and not forget it or put it out of their minds, Christ (first) gave the bread to them. The loaves were (then) multiplied, lest it appear that He had performed a miracle that was merely imaginary. There were twelve baskets (of fragments) left over, so that Judas also would carry one, and, remembering the miracle, would not slip into treachery; he, however, being ungrateful, foolish and unjust, forgot (about the miracle) and betrayed the Master. Our Master and God multiplied not only the loaves, but also the fishes, to show that He is the Creator of earth and sea. Whatever we eat day by day, we eat it because He gives it and bestows it upon us; by Him it is multiplied and abounds, that we may be plentifully nourished and render Him thanks. Christ performed the miracle in a desert place, lest anyone think that He had bought bread in a neighbouring town and fed such a multitude; the place (of the miracle) was barren, and lay far from any town. Now, just as those people went out from their cities and followed the Master Christ Who had gone into the wilderness, let us, also, brethren, retire from the bustle (of the world), refrain from (its) wicked and evil ways, and subjugate fleshly wisdom to the spirit; for all flesh is as grass (Isa 40:6; 1 Pet 1:24). Let us, therefore, strive to mortify the flesh, that, having done so, we may settle in verdant places; having also eaten the bread of God’s blessing, we shall receive the remission of our many and wicked sins. If the people had not left their houses and cities and walked through the wilderness, they would not have received healing and health for their sick, and the blessing of the loaves. In approaching so great a table, we also must display much forethought, listen to spiritual instruction with great fervour, and run to the church of God; abiding therein, with heart and soul, desire and volition, let us seek, yearn, labour and strive, that the Lord, seeing our assiduity and our patience, may be moved to take pity on us, and heal our illnesses and infirmities, spiritual as well as bodily, for He is the Master and Physician of our souls and bodies. And now may He that giveth food to all flesh (Ps 135:25) give (us) food in due season (Ps 103:29), and deliver us from every evil, from trials, wrath and affliction; and in the age to come may He grant us life everlasting and the enjoyment of imperishable good things; which may we all receive, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be glory and dominion, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Amen. Amen. Amen.