17th Sunday Ordinary Time B18
All four Gospels relate an episode of Jesus feeding a crowd but only John sets it as being near the feast of Passover, has a different role for Phillip and Andrew, and the designation of the loaves as being barley, reminiscent of the story of Elisha we heard in the first reading.
Imagine being the unnamed boy in today’s Gospel. What was he doing with 5 loaves of bread and two fish? Is he returning from the market with them for his master? Or does his mother expect him at home with food for the rest of the family? Is he just passing through or is he part of the large crowd? What happened to attract Andrew’s attention? Did the boy willingly hand them over to Jesus or did he argue, not wanting to part with them because he knew his master or mother would punish him for showing up empty handed? In any case the boy provided the means of a miracle, feeding 5,000 men reclining on the ground (instead of “reclining”, I would say they were “loafing”), having an abundance of food with leftovers besides.
John was writing the Gospel for a community who would see obvious parallels to their Eucharistic gathering. And so should we. But rather than talk about that, let’s consider the aftermath of the feeding of crowds in both the 1st reading and the Gospel.
Both Elisha and Jesus have leftovers. Jesus makes sure none of it goes to waste, and I imagine the prophet did the same.
What do we do with our leftovers at home or in a restaurant?
We are fortunate in Marlborough that most of us live with an abundance of food, so much so we are sometimes very picky when shopping for fresh vegetables or fruit. We don’t like them with bruises, a little wilted, or anything else that mars their appearance. For instance, last week I was at Paul and Sandy’s, Too1 when I saw a worker sorting through green beans, discarding some of them. I asked what she was doing and what would happen to the discards. She said the customers buy only those that are perfect in size or shape (no curves, only straight). And the discards go into a pail and are picked up by people who feed them to their pigs. I imagine that there are hungry people who would gladly take them.
I’m not suggesting we all go on a guilt trip; only to be aware of wastefulness and share from the abundance we have.
Returning to the boy, I imagine Jesus gave him a basket or two of the leftovers.
 A local garden shop which sells produce from local farmers.