Both and Mark tell of two instances Jesus multiplying loaves and fishes. That story illustrates both the availability and the compassion of Jesus.  He had withdrawn to the opposite shore of the Sea of Galilee to have some time alone.  But the crowds had followed him.  A natural reaction at this imposition would have been irritation, perhaps even some anger.  But Jesus immediately showed compassion.  He was concerned the people would be hungry after their long journey on foot.

It is interesting to note the role of the two disciples mentioned in the story.  Phillip appears as somewhat of a pessimist.  Effectively he is saying nothing can be done.  Andrew’s reaction was quite different.  Effectively, he was saying “I’ll see what I can do and leave the rest to Jesus.  It was Andrew who brought the lad to Jesus and set the stage for the miracle.  The suggestion is that miracles can occur when we bring our concerns to Jesus.
It is also interesting to note the first thing Jesus did was to teach the crowd “at great length” the gospel tells us.  Jesus’ first concern was to satisfy their spiritual hunger.
Traditionally, we understand this story literally.  We take it as a dramatic miracle What the boy had didn’t  amount to much and the crowd was very large.  It borders on creation i.e. making something out of nothing.

There is a very different interpretation of this event.  Rationalists who do not believe in miracles attempt to explain “miracles” in purely rational terms propose that Jesus did not actually multiply the loaves and fishes.  What happened was that many of the people brought food with them and concealed it, fearing they might have to share it with others.  Then seeing the boy sharing what he had brought began sharing with others who had no food.

Of course, we dismiss such an interpretation.  But it might be asked which is the greater miracle…..multiplying the loaves and fishes or inspiring a great multitude of people to act with generosity and charity.

What Jesus did was to take a small amount of low quality food and turn it into a satisfying meal for thousands. Clearly, a great miracle. But Jesus continues to work similar miracles He can take the small amount of the somewhat low quality of love we have to offer and turn it into something much greater and more valuable by his grace.