…and his kingdom shall have no end…
The kingdom of God is a central theme in Jesus’ preaching and teaching. He describes the kingdom in various ways: it is here and not yet, like a mustard seed, a treasure hidden in a field. When we profess "and his kingdom shall have no end" in the Nicene Creed, we might wonder what an everlasting kingdom looks like or how we might live out resurrection hope amid our fractured world.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus brought the kingdom of God closer to the people through several means, one of which was miracles. A miracle can be described as an inbreaking of the kingdom of God. One of the most significant miracles Jesus performed in the gospels is the feeding the multitude. Aside from the resurrection, it is the only miracle that occurs in all four gospels (Mt. 14:13-21; Mk. 6:31-44; Lk. 9:12-17; Jn. 6:1-14), and it points to the hope of a more just and inclusive world.
The miracle occurs in first-century Palestine, at a time in history when goods were limited. There was no Amazon Prime or same day delivery. In many cases, food, work, relationships, and housing were a luxury. Most people had nothing more than what they needed to get by, some not even that. Given this reality, it is easy to see why the disciples wanted to dismiss the crowd after Jesus’ preaching (Mt. 14:15; Mk. 6:36), so they would not be responsible for feeding them.
But Jesus has a different approach. He says to the disciples, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves” (Mt. 14:16). Imagine what the disciples must have thought when they heard this! They looked around and saw that the only available food was five loaves and two fish (Mt. 14:17; Mk. 6:41; Lk. 9:16; Jn. 6:9). Their scarcity mindset was in full force, and they could not see how they could possibly feed so many with so little.
As the disciples' doubt continued to grow, Jesus requested that they bring him the five loaves and two fish (Mt. 14:18). Looking up to heaven, "he gave thanks and broke the loaves" (Mt. 14:19). Jesus then handed the bread to the disciples, who start distributing it to the crowd. Jesus could have easily dispersed the food himself. Instead, he puts the food into the hands of the disciples, who take the food directly to the people gathered. Jesus’ actions demonstrate that his disciples are co-creators in God's kingdom.
This inbreaking of the kingdom opens up space for those gathered to be fed at God's table and welcomed as they are. Every week at mass, we profess hope in God's eternal kingdom, where our needs are met, and love abounds. The feeding of the multitude reminds us that in the kingdom of God, everyone is taken care of, eats their fill, is satisfied, and there is still much leftover (Mt. 14:20; Jn. 6:12-13). There is no scarcity. There is no exclusion.
How can we bring about God's kingdom in our daily life? What are the pressing needs around us that are asking to be tended to?