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Friends, today’s Gospel is a prelude to the feeding of the five thousand.

There is a darkness at the beginning of this famous account. We hear that John the Baptist has just been murdered and that Jesus has withdrawn into a remote and deserted place, fearing probably that the same fate might be his. His charisma and reputation are such that thousands come seeking him out, even in this out-of-the-way and dangerous locale.

There are many overtones and undertones for the biblically minded reader. We see the terrible fate of the one who speaks for God—hunted down, forced into exile, not at home in this world. And in some ways, this is the permanent condition of life in our conflictual and fallen world. This world here below is a deserted place, where the prophets of God are in danger and where we long for every word that comes from the mouth of God.