Both readings of today's liturgy, Numbers 11: 4b-15 and Matthew 14: 13-21, speak of God providing food for His people. In the desert God sent manna from heaven each day. "At night, when dew fell upon the camp, the manna also fell." In the Gospel, the disciples ask that Jesus "dismiss the crowds so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves" as it was getting late. Jesus replies: "There is no need for them to go away." The disciples discover that someone in the crowd of 5000+ people has five loaves and two fish. Jesus takes "the five loaves and two fish" and feeds the crowd of "about five thousand men, not counting women and children." We are told that "all ate and were satisfied." In the desert, on the other hand, the people complained about God's choice of responding to their hunger by sending them manna to eat. They were angry about having no meat.
In the Gospel, the disciples could not believe that there was anything that could be done to feed a crowd of 5000+ people with only two fish and fives loaves of bread. God's response to the Israelites in the desert and to the disciples gathered around Jesus, is one of patience. God had a plan then and does now in your life and mine!
In these two stories, we could be like the Israelites in the desert who are fed up with "manna" and complaining that life, in the past, was much better than it is now. Or we might identify with Moses, who goes to God and says: "Where can I get meat to give to all these people? For they are crying out to me 'Give us meat for our food.' I cannot carry all this people by myself, for they are too heavy for me. If this is the way you will deal with me, then please do me the favor of killing me at once, so that I need no longer face this distress." Might we be like the disciples in the Gospel who want Jesus to send the crowd away and not be bothered to feed any of them? Some of us might be like the person in the crowd willing to share the little he/she has, trusting that God will provide. And, finally and hopefully, many of us are like the people who are fully satisfied, at the end of any day, that God has generously met our needs this day so that, in turn, we can meet the needs of others as well.
Whoever you are in these stories, may you humbly go to God and share your story!