I'll be speaking on this topic this weekend at the Catholic Family Conference in Wichita, Kansas. Hope to see some of you there!
FIRST READING: Isa 55:1-3
Thus says the LORD: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.
Here I'd like to highlight three major ideas which all are relevant to the Gospel reading.
The Messianic Banquet. Many scholars have recognized that the imagery here is likely alluding to hopes for an eschatological banquet. This banquet, which is linked to the messianic age and the restoration of Israel, is most explicitly described in Isaiah 25:6-8:
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined. 7 And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.Other passages relating eschatological banquet hopes include biblical passages such as Isaiah 30:29 and Ezekiel 39:17-20 as well as texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls (1Q28a 2) and other Second Temple Jewish works (1 Enoch 62:14).
In a famous article on the messianic banquet, John Priest concludes,
The theme of a messianic/eschatological banquet was well known in Jewish and Christian apocalyptic thought. Although it is found in its developed form in only a surprisingly few texts, its pervasiveness is attested by allusions to it which can be given without explanation or comment.A Covenant Messianic Banquet. What is especially interesting about Isaiah 55:1-3 is that it links messianic banquet imagery to the language of covenant renewal. The combination of "covenant" and "banquet" motifs evokes the story of the covenant ratification ceremony at Sinai. There, of course, Israel enters into a "covenant" with God through a ceremony which climaxes with a kind of "heavenly banquet"--a meal with God on the holy mountain.
And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank. (Exod 24:4-11)
In fact, many scholars think messianic banquet traditions--which often involve hopes for a New Exodus, i.e., the return of Israel from exile--draw from this account. In other words, just as the first Exodus climaxed with a meal with God on a mountain, the New Exodus will also involve a sacred feast.
The Davidic Covenant Renewal. The covenant that is specifically said to be "renewed" is the Davidic covenant. Many read the promise in Isaiah 55 as the "democratization" of the Davidic covenant--i.e., what was promised to David is now transferred to all the people of Israel. This is often viewed in terms of a rejection of the Davidic monarchy itself. This seems unlikely given the larger book of Isaiah, which asserts the coming of such a figure in other places (e.g., Isa 9:6-7; 11:1-10). Thus, as Heim writes, ". . . the offer of David's original 'everlasting covenant' to the whole people is perhaps not so much a transferral, but an extension."
Of course, this is what is in view in the New Testament. Christ, the Son of God, extends his covenant to his people, enabling them to likewise be "sons of God" in him.
R/ (cf. 16) The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs. The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness.The LORD is good to alland compassionate toward all his works. R/ The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs. The eyes of all look hopefully to you,and you give them their food in due season;you open your handand satisfy the desire of every living thing. R/ The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs. The LORD is just in all his waysand holy in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call upon him,to all who call upon him in truth. R/ The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.In light of the Davidic imagery in the First Reading, Psalm 145 is a particularly appropriate selection for the Responsorial Psalm. The superscription (title) of the psalm associates it with David. In fact, in a verse not read in the lectionary we read: "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endures throughout all generations." Given the fact that the final form of the Psalter dates to a period long after the time of the Davidic kingdom, it is easy to see how this line could evoke hopes for the restoration of the Davidic kingdom, which is elsewhere identified as the "Kingdom of the Lord" (cf. 2 Chr 13:8).
Obviously, the line: "you give them their food in due season" coheres well with the First Reading as well.
SECOND READING: Rom 8:35, 37-39
Brothers and sisters:Whereas the First Reading looks forward to the day of the eschatological banquet, i.e., the day of God's ultimate victory over evil, the Second Reading explains how this has occurred in Christ.
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It bears mentioning here that some Protestant readers use this passage to support the idea of "eternal security", that is, the belief that once a person is saved that salvation can never be lost ("once-saved-always-saved"). A close reading of this text, though, reveals that no such idea is present. Paul says no trial or thing can separate us from Christ but he does not say that sin won't separate us from him.
In fact, "eternal security" is clearly at odds with Jesus' teaching in John 15, where Jesus identifies himself as a "vine" and believers as "branches". Specifically, Jesus explains that branches that bear no fruit will be cut off from the vine and "thrown into the fire and burned" (John 15:6). 1 John 5:15-17 likewise makes it clear that there is such a thing as "mortal sin". Finally, we might also mention that Paul himself hardly sounds like he affirms eternal security in 2 Corinthians:
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God. (1 Cor 4:3-5)GOSPEL: Matt 14:13-21
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.An Allusion to the Miracle of the Manna. Scholars recognize that the story of Jesus’ feeding miracle seems to evoke Exodus traditions, in particular, the episode of God feeding the Israelites in the wilderness with the manna and quail. Peter-Ben Smit, explains “. . . the intertextual connections of the feedings and the Exodus traditions are so strong that they should be assumed to be of significance. A narration of a miraculous abundance of bread in a lonely place in the context of a prophetic movement is hard not to associate with the Exodus.” Indeed, the allusion to the manna story in the account of the feeding of the multitudes is widely recognized.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,“This is a deserted place and it is already late;dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villagesand buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,he said the blessing, broke the loaves,and gave them to the disciples,who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,not counting women and children.
Note the elements common to both stories: language of “wilderness” (ἔρημός; cf. Exod 16:1, 3, 10, 14; Matt 14:13, 15; Mark 6:32. 35; Luke 9:12); the description of the need for food (cf. Exod 16:2-3; Matt 14:15; Mark 6:35; Luke 9:12); the giving of miraculous “bread” (ἄρτους; cf. Exod 16:3, 4, 8, 12, 15, 22; Matt 14:17-18; Mark 6:38; Luke 9:13) is provided with another item (cf. the quail in Exodus 16; the fish in the Gospels); the food is gathered up into receptacles (cf. Exod 16:17; cf. Matt 14:20; Mark 6:43; Luke 9:17). In addition, as in the Gospel story, we find that no matter how much or how little manna the people gathered they never ran out (cf. Exod 16:18). The major difference here is that in the wilderness there was no manna left over as in the narrative of the feeding of the five thousand.
Indeed, by evoking Exodus Jesus likely signifies eschatological hopes, which were frequently linked with New Exodus imagery. Josephus reports that a number of “imposters” (go/hv; cf. Ant. 20.97; 20.160) arose who apparently made claims that they would bring about the eschatological victory of Israel. He tells us that many were led astray by them because of their promises of “marvels and signs” (Ant. 20.168; cf. B. J. 2.258-60; 6.286-87)―terminology Josephus elsewhere associates with the Exodus (cf. Ant. 2.327).
In fact, the term "signs" is used primarily to describe those miracles Moses performed to authenticate his prophetic identity before the people of Israel. These figures would often perform signs reminiscent of Moses and Joshua. For example, Josephus tells us about a man named Theudas, who gathered the people to the Jordan River, promising to make it part (Ant. 20.97-99). There was also a figure known as “the Egyptian,”―remember, Moses was raised in the house of Pharaoh!―who stood on the Mt. of Olives promising to bring down the walls of the city and then led followers out to the desert with promise of the performance of signs and wonders (Ant. 20.167-68), e.g., like Joshua. Such actions evoking such traditions were clearly meant to signal eschatological hopes―e.g., the “New Exodus”.
By performing a sign reminiscent of Israel’s desert wanderings Jesus thus likely signals his intention to fulfill eschatological hopes. Here we might add one further detail: Jesus’ instruction to the disciples to have the crowds sit in groups―a detail only present in Mark and Luke (Mark 6:39//Luke 9:15). This element also seems to evoke Exodus traditions. Moses had arranged the people into groups of a thousand, five hundred, one hundred and ten in Exodus 18:25 and Numbers 31:14. Indeed, that the Qumranites were also concerned with such groupings, associating it them with the organization of Israel in the eschatological age (cf. 1QS 2:21-22; CD 13:1; 1QM 4:1–5:17; 1QSa 1:14–15, 28–29), further supports the idea that the reference in the Gospels relates to New Exodus imagery.
The Fish and the Manna. But what of the fish? Is there any significance to their presence in the story?
The appearance of the fish may also be seen as an allusion to the story of the manna. Fish are closely linked with the gift of the quail in Numbers 11. The account begins with people complaining about not having the fish they ate in Egypt (cf. Num 11:5). In Numbers 11:22, Moses tells the Lord,
“The people among whom I number six hundred thousand on foot; and thou hast said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!’ Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to suffice them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?”In response to this, the Lord, “…brought quails from the sea” (Num 11:31). In connection with this it is worth noting that Wisdom 19:12 describes the Lord providing the quail, which “came up from the sea” (ἐκ θαλάσσης). The quails then are described almost as sea creatures, i.e., fish. The giving of fish to the Israelites is also associated with the wilderness traditions in Sipre Num. 11:22, where they are said to have come from Miriam’s well.
One other note about the fish. Scholars have recognized that, as in other places where table-fellowship figures prominent in Jesus’ ministry, the miracle of the feeding of the multitude seems to evoke imagery of the eschatological banquet. As mentioned above, some scholars have noted that the eschatological banquet itself may be modeled on the covenant meal celebrated at Mt. Sinai after the Exodus (cf. Exod 24:9-11). Indeed, there is other evidence that traditions relating to the eschatological banquet were tied to Exodus hopes. We have already noted that the organization of the people into groups in Mark and Luke evoke the wilderness traditions. Strikingly, these groupings were specifically used by the Dead Sea Community to describe the messianic banquet (cf. 1QSa 2:11–22). Furthermore, other texts relate that the people of God will receive manna in the eschatological age (cf. 2 Bar. 29:8; Eccl. Rab. 1:9; Tg. on Song of Songs 4:5).
The emphasis on the abundance of food provided by Jesus (e.g., twelve baskets of leftovers), evokes texts closely associated with the tradition of the messianic banquet in which the eschatological age is linked with the Lord’s provision of an abundance of food (Isa 23:18; 62:8; Jer 31:10-14; Ezek 36:29; Joel 2:19; 2 Baruch 29:3-30:1).
Given the presence of fish in the miracle it is interesting to note that that later sources preserve traditions describe the meal of the eschatological banquet as consisting of the sea monster Leviathan
(cf. 2 Bar. 29.3-8; cf. 4 Ezra 6.49-52; b. B Bat. 74b-75a). In light of this it is possible that Jesus’ act of providing not only loaves but fish alludes to these traditions.
In fact, Marcus who points out that the prophecy in 2 Baruch not only envisions the eating of the Leviathan but also the manna (2 Bar. 29.3–8). He goes on to point out, “This passage has several other noteworthy parallels to our story: the revelation of the Messiah, the marvelous fruitfulness of the ground… and the statement near the end that ‘those who are hungry will enjoy themselves.”
Jesus as the Davidic Messiah. As is well known, Matthew's Gospel emphasizes Jesus' role as the Davidic Messiah. With this in mind it is probably worth noting that Ezekiel describes the eschatological Davidic king as the one who would "feed" God's people.
And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.(Ezek 34:23).Jesus is the true Davidic Messiah, the Shepherd King, who feeds his people.
The Feeding of the Five Thousand as a Eucharistic Miracle. Davies and Allison find 9 parallels which occur in order in Matthew 14, the feeding of the five thousand, and the account of the Last Supper in Matthew 26 They conclude: “It seems to us evident that Matthew intended 14.13–21 to be closely related to the institution of the Eucharist.”
Of course, it was in the Eucharist that Jesus established the meal of the new covenant, using language that draws directly on the covenant ratification ceremony described in Exodus 24, mentioned above ("blood of the new covenant"). As we have seen, this ceremony is understood by many as the source of messianic banquet traditions.
By linking the Eucharist to the feeding of the five thousand--a miracle drawing on messianic banquet traditions--Matthew links the Lord's Supper to meal associated with the restoration of Israel. The restoration of Israel is thus realized sacramentally in the Lord's Supper.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it: "The Kingdom of God has been coming since the Last Supper and, in the Eucharist, it is in our midst" (no. 2816).
 See, e.g., James L. Crenshaw, Defending God: Biblical Responses to the Problem of Evil (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 242, no. 21.
 John Priest, “On Note on the Messianic Banquet,” in The Messiah: Developments in Earliest Judaism and Christianity (J. H. Charlesworth, ed.; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992)), 237 [222-38]. In addition, see James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered (vol. 1 in Christianity in the Making; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 394.
 See, e.g., Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1-39: A New Translation with Commentary (AB 19; New York/London: Doubleday, 2000), 357-60.
 Knut M. Heim, "The (God-)Forsaken King of Psalm 89: A Historical and Intertextual Enquiry," in King and Messiah in Israel and the Ancient Near East: Proceedings of the Oxford Old Testament Seminar (ed. J. Day; London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 309.
 See Smit, Fellowship and Food in the Kingdom (WUNT 2/234; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2008): 69–71.
 See Green, The Gospel of Luke, 363; Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, 191-96; Collins, Mark, 322; Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 402-5; Joel Marcus, Mark 1:417; France, Gospel of Mark, 262; Nolland, Luke 1―9:20, 442; Ludger Schenke, Die wunderbare Brotvermehrung: Die neutestamentlichen in Erzählungen und ihre Bedeutung (Würzburg: Echter, 1983), 104–107. Such allusions were also caught be ancient interpreters (cf. Cyril of Alendarida, Comm. On Luke 48).
 The connection between the manna and the bread is, of course, underscored in the Johannine account (cf. John 6:25-34).
 The term has now become part of the academic vocabulary. See Pitre, Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile, 139, who writes that in the prophetic literature, “the future return from exile is ividly depicted in terms of a New Exodus”. He cites numerous examples (Hos 2:14-23; Isa 40:1-11; Isa 52:1-12; Jer 3:15-24; 16:14-15; 23:5-8; 30-31). Likewise, see Andrew C. Brunson, Psalm 118 in the Gospel of John: An Intertextual Study on the New Exodus (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), 154: “The widespread and general hope of deliverance and restoration can be divided into three distinct yet interlinked categories which account for all of the expectations: the return from exile; the defeat of Israel’s enemies; and the return of Yahweh to live and reign among his people. I will refer to this complex of restoration hope as the New Exodus, a phrase which although not specifically found in the ancient texts yet adequately describes the eschatological program presented by the Prophets and also ties these longings to the paradigmatic deliverance in Israel’s past.”
 In fact, the term shmeĩa is used primarily to describe those miracles Moses performed to authenticate his prophetic identity before the people of Israel. See the discussion in Rebecca Gray, Prophetic Figures in Late Scond Temple Judaism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 125-130.
 See Farrer, A Study in St. Mark, 291; Richardson, “The Feeding of the Five Thousand,” 145; Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew, 591 n 69.
 This is pointed out by Marcus, Mark, 1:411; Nolland, Luke, 1:442.
 See, e.g., Nineham, Mark, 178: “Here perhaps we come near the original significance of the incident; it may have been intended by Jesus as an anticipation, more or less sacramental in character, of the Messianic Banquet, designed to communication his conviction that he was the one men would soon see presiding over the Messianic Banquet, and also perhaps to consecrate those who shared the food as partakers in the coming messianic feast, as to given them a guarantee that they who had shared his table in the time of his obscurity would share it in the time of his glory.” See also, e.g., Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 402–3; Collins, Mark, 322–23; Fenton, Gospel of Matthew, 242; Healy, Gospel of Mark, 128; etc.
“And it will happen at that time that the treasury of manna will come down again from on high, and they will eat of it in those years because these are they who will have arrived at the consummation of time.”
 “As the former redeemer caused manna to descend, as it is stated, Behold, I will cause to rain bread from heaven for you (Ex. XVI, 4), so will the latter Redeemer cause manna to descend, as it is stated. May he be as a rich cornfield [tsp is read as ttp ‘pieces of bread] (Ps. LXXII, 16).” Cited from A. Cohen, trans., Midrash Rabbah: Ecclesiastes (vol. 8 of 10; London/New York: The Soncino Press, 1983), 33.
 “Your two deliverers, who will deliver you, the Messiah son of David and the Messiah son of Ephraim, are like Moses and Aaron, the sons of Jochebed, who are compared to two fawns, twins of a gazelle. In virtue of their meritorious deeds they were feeding the people of the House of Israel for forty years in the wilderness with manna, plump fowl, and water from Miriam’s well.” Cited from Philip S. Alexander, The Targum of Canticles: Translated, with a Critical Introduction, Apparatus, and Notes (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2003), 135.
 Boring, Mark, 187: “That so much food was not only left over, but left behind is another indication of eschatological extravagance. The disciples gathering the fragments is a counter-picture of the Mosaic manna, which could not be preserved (Exod 16:4–5; 13–21...), and portrays the messianic times, when hunger will be replaced not merely by adequacy but by extravagance (cf., e.g., 2 Bar. 29.5).”
 Marcus (Mark, 1:410) who points out that the prophecy in 2 Baruch not only envisions the eating of the Leviathan but also the manna (2 Bar 29.3–8). He goes on to point out, “This passage has several other noteworthy parallels to our story: the revelation of the Messiah, the marvelous fruitfulness of the ground… and the statement near the end that ‘those who are hungry will enjoy themselves.” In addition, see Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew, 591 n 69; Davies and Allison, Matthew, 481.
 Mark, 1:410.
 (1) “And when it was evening” (14:14; 26:20); (2) “reclined” (14:19; 26:20); (3) “having taken” (14:19; 26:26); (4) “the bread” (14:19; 26:26); (5) “he blessed” (14:19; 26:26); (6) “having broken” / “he broke” (14:19; 26:26); (7) “he gave to the disciples” / “having given to the disciples, he gave to them (14:19; 26:26); (8) “they ate” / “eat” (14:20 26:27); (9) “all” (14:20; 26:27).
 Davies and Allison, Matthew, 3:481.