11 February
Mk 8:1-10

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, Jesus called his disciples and said to them, ‘I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ They said, ‘Seven.’ Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

This is the second feeding of the multitudes in Mark’s gospel; the earlier one is just a few pages before.  Since the early centuries, commentators have suggested that the first was for Jews, the second for Gentiles.  The second is certainly more ‘gentile’ (Greek) in its language and idiom.  One example: in verse 7, Jesus “blessed the fish” (not all translators render this in a literal way); Jews never blessed objects, they blessed (‘gave thanks to’) God for the object.  This and many other details suggest at least that this passage had a non-Jewish origin. 

What are we to take from this?  It is very interesting for us (Gentiles) to know that this earliest of the four gospels already has us in view.  Though Jesus only once left his own country, his teaching, from the earliest times, was for the whole world.


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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