68 – It is not true that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. It is not magic, it is a “sign”, a parable

It is probable that many of our readers received their catechism classes during the turbulent years of the 70’s, and may have heard, wide-eyed and scandalized, that the well-known miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, transmitted in the Gospel, was nothing more than a metaphor to symbolize the power of sharing with others. It was a time in which many things in the Church were re-interpreted by some… and much innocence was lost.

Despite such misguided flights of imagination, the fact is that this particular miracle of the multiplication of loaves appears on two different occasions in the Gospels, the first of which is narrated by all four Evangelists, perhaps the only miracle that receives this attention. That is why it is not difficult to have quite a complete picture of the circumstances that surrounded the happening: we even know what type of loaves they were, and where they came from. According to Saint John, they were barley loaves provided by a young boy. The four Gospels carefully recount the number of those benefited: more or less five thousand men, without counting the women and children.

Therefore, it was a miracle experienced by a significant number of witnesses who were hungry and were aware of the lack of food, but who ended up satisfying themselves on the loaves and fishes. Moreover, they could attest to the reality of the miracle by the leftovers collected afterwards by the disciples.

The same happened with the second multiplication, narrated in the Synoptics: in this episode, Jesus fed around four thousand people with seven loaves and a few small fish. And though Jesus was accused by his detractors of all sorts of lies, even they could not o so far as to deny this miracle, which was so amply witnessed.

In light of such a clear narration, would it be licit for a Catholic to doubt the power of Christ? Wouldn’t he who walked on water and transformed water into wine have the power to multiply loaves and even produce them out of nothing?

Just as those who sought Jesus, eager to learn his doctrine, the Church also transmits very firm and accessible teachings to all of us regarding the divine power of our Redeemer, and these specific episodes, as well as indicating how the other facts narrated in the Gospels should be interpreted.


Quote AQuote BQuote CQuote D

Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter the various parts of our study


I – Christ’s miracles prove his divinity
II – Tradition and Sacred Scripture: the deposit of the Word of God confided to the Church
III – The teachings of the Church regarding the miracles of the multiplication of the loaves

Sacred Scripture

Jesus himself considers his own miracles as a proof of his Divinity for others
Those who do not believe in Christ have his miracles as a proof of his divine power
Jesus became famous because of his mighty deeds, wonders, and signs

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The miracles of Christ showed that His supernatural doctrine was from God

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Christ’s deeds, miracles and words: what was visible in his earthly life leads to the invisible mystery of his divine sonship and redemptive mission


Christ proves His own divinity and the divine origin of His mission by miracles

Vatican Council I (Ecumenical XX)

God willed that external proofs of His revelation, namely miracles, should be joined to the internal aids of the Holy Spirit

John Paul II

The whole primitive Church saw in each one of the miracles the supreme power of Christ over nature and laws
Christ’s miracles were not denied even by his adversaries – unable to do so, they sought to attribute them to the power of the devil
Saint John speaks of the miracles as ‘signs’ to demonstrate the action of God in person, Christ

Vatican Council I (Ecumenical XX)

Anathema: for anyone considers the miracles in Sacred Scripture as fables and myths

II – Tradition and Sacred Scripture: the deposit of the Word of God confided to the Church

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

The Magisterium must serve the Word of God

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon

If anyone does not agree with the Gospels, he despises Christ and stands self-condemned

Benedict XV

Those who overturn the fundamental truth of the Bible destroy Catholic teaching handed down by the Fathers


Illicitude of interpreting Holy Scripture contrary to the true sense which the Church has always held
Interpretations which oppose the teaching of the Church are senseless and false

Pius X

Those who go beyond the limits determined by the Fathers and the Church in the interpretation of Sacred Scripture fall into serious errors
Condemned: the idea that the Evangelists recorded false things which would be profitable for their readers
Excommunication latae sententiae for those who defend propositions, opinions or teachings condemned in the decree Lamentabili sane exitu

Pontifical Biblical Commission

Those who teach the faithful must abstain from proposing insufficiently proven novelties that do not correspond with the truth


The announcers of novelties approach the faulty cisterns of human wisdom
Detestable errors of those who consider that the miracles are not what they are said to be, but the effects of natural law, or tricks and myths

III – The teachings of the Church regarding the miracles of the multiplication of the loaves

Sacred Scripture

They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over - twelve wicker baskets full
Moved with pity for the crowd Jesus multiplied the loaves a second time
When the people saw the sign Jesus had done they wanted to carry him off to make him king

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The multiplication of the loaves was not effected by way of creation, but by an addition of extraneous matter

Saint Augustine of Hippo

He who multiplied the five loaves is the same One who multiplies the fruits of the seeds

Saint Ambrose of Milan

In multiplying the loaves, Jesus showed his power over material nature

Saint John Chrysostom

The remains of the multiplication exceeded as fragments so that the absent might learn of the miracle
The fragments showed that what had taken place was no illusion


With the multiplication of the loaves, Christ desired to manifest his power to the multitudes that followed him

John Paul II

This miracle marks the beginning of the uninterrupted multiplication of the Bread of new life in the Church
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 thoughts on “68 – It is not true that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. It is not magic, it is a “sign”, a parable

  1. For me, distribution of wealth to make the world a better place = communist jargon. Francis is a communist. he’s trying to make people think that jesus too was a communist by denying this miracle.

Leave a Reply