The first 15 verses of the 6th chapter of St. John’s Gospel are the beginning of a great teaching Jesus gives on the Eucharist. The Gospels tell us of several times where Jesus miraculously multiplied bread to feed a multitude of people. There are some details to this story that point us to the Mass and the Eucharist.
Jesus is there with His Apostles, the first priests of the Church. They, like all priests, cannot feed the people of God without help from Jesus. So Jesus takes what the Apostles do have, 5 loaves and 2 fish, and from that Jesus gives the Apostles more than what then need to do His will. The Apostles were able to do something, feed 5000 people (over 10,000 when you count women and children) which they could never have done without Jesus. Jesus takes what little we have, as long as we offer it to Him, and gives us the ability to do things we could never have done without Him.
This happens at every Mass. We bring ourselves to the church and offer ourselves to God. We offer ourselves in union with the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, presented to God the Father by the priest. The priest takes our little offering, and what little He has to offer as well, and lays in on the altar for God, just like the Apostles gave Jesus the bread and fish. Then God gives the priest, gives all of us, the Eucharist, an infinite source of spiritual food to feed all our souls.
We see this part of the Mass foreshadowed in this Gospel account. “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks…” just as the priest does at Mass… and also what Jesus would say at the Last Supper. (Eucharist means giving thanks) Then Jesus “distributed them to those who were reclining.” We can be sure Jesus did this by giving the bread to His Apostles, to His priests, to give to the people, just as the priest does at Mass.
“When they had had their fill, He said to his disciples, ‘Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.’” The people had there fill, as we do when we are given the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ at Mass. And after distribution of the Eucharist is over, the priest gathers everything that is left over, so that nothing will be wasted, and reserves the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.