Philip answered [Jesus], "It would take more than half a year's wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!"
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"
Seeing a crowd of over 5,000 people coming toward them, Jesus asked Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" Not only did Philip reply, but Andrew also chimed in. Their responses are revealing.
Philip's reply is one of practical calculations. He assesses the situation based on economic terms. He looks at the huge crowd, considers the resources at hand, and states: "It would take more than half a year's wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" Philip was stating an economic fact, and he was not wrong. Many of us might have responded the same way as he did. In the world we live in, we weigh solutions against tangible resources. While this attitude is pragmatic, it can limit one's vision to only what is immediately feasible.
Andrew then chips in by introducing a boy with some loaves and fish. He offers a different perspective. While he, too, recognizes the inadequacy of their resources —"but how far will they go among so many?" he asks— he still brings forth what they have. This gesture, though tinged with doubt, is a step towards faith. It's as if Andrew is saying, "This is all we have, but perhaps, with you, Jesus, it might be enough."
In our previous reflection, I invited you to examine your response to Jesus' question. Did you, like Philip, get caught up in the calculations or, like Andrew, bring forth your limited resources in the hope of divine multiplication? Regardless of your response, let us understand that doubt is part of our journey. However, each step we take should lead us to an increase in faith, especially when we see what Jesus can do for us.
In our following reflection, we will see what he does here on the mountainside. Here is something for you to chew on until then. Five barley loaves and two small fish might not seem like a lot of food, but it was a considerable amount for a boy to carry. Why did he have so much food with him?
God bless you.