Today’s Gospel from the Mass (John 6:1-15) recalls Christ’s feeding of the 5000.  Or is it a test?  Consider:

[1] After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiber’i-as.[2] And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased. [3] Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples. [4] Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. [5] Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” [6] This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. [7] Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” [8] One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,  [9] “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?” [10] Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. [11] Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. [12] And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.” [13] So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. [14] When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!” [15] Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

As always, Jesus is in charge.  In this case, one of the things that Jesus seeks to accomplish is the testing of the disciples.  Consider:

  • Jesus specifically leads the disciples and a multitude out into the wilderness on a mountain.  
  • Knowing there is no food, Jesus asks Philip, “How are we to buy bread so that these people might eat?”
  • Scripture reveals that Jesus is not asking for an answer to his question about food, but He is seeking to test Philip’s faith; “This He said to test him, for He Himself know what He would do.”
  • Why does Jesus seek to test Philip?  To see if Philip believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
  • Philip fails the test. Despite seeing Jesus turning water into wine at the Wedding of Cana, the powerful cleansing of the Temple and multiple headings, Philip does not have enough faith to believe that Jesus Christ is God.
  • Instead, Philip bemoans the fact that they do not have enough money to buy sufficient food.
  • Then Andrew, one of the first disciples, also fails the test of faith.  Andrew says, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they among so many?”
  • You can almost hear Andrew’s sense of futility or sarcasm; whatever the emotion, it is not faith.

Of course, Jesus goes on to perform a spectacular miracle, one that is specifically done to strengthen the faith of the disciples.

Jesus still tests each soul’s faith.  Pray that we have more faith than Philip and Andrew at the Feeding of the 5000.