The following is an excerpt from Fr. Prat’s book, Jesus Christ (Bruce Publishing, 1954).
“The multiplication of loaves is recounted by all four of the Evangelists. This unusual agreement allows us to compare St. John with his predecessors and to draw several conclusions about the peculiar character of this Gospel. St. John, as usual, is outstanding here in his precision of detail. He gives the exact date, the approach of the Passover; he tells the part played by Philip and Andrew, which the Synoptics attribute to the Apostles as a group. But the figures are the same: five thousand people, five loaves of bread and two fishes, and twelve baskets of fragments. There is no trace of any farfetched symbolism at the expense of historical truth. True it is that St. John would probably not have mentioned the multiplication of the loaves and the walking on the water, both being well known from the accounts of his predecessors, had he not wished to make of them a preface to the Eucharistic discourse. This bread, which is mutliplied by a simple act ofh te will, and this body which defies the laws of gravity after the manner of a spirit, are they not suitable to render more credibble the sacramental presence of Christ in the consecrated Host? The mention of the Passover has, without doubt, the same symbolic purpose, the date of the promise coinciding with the date of the institution. But the account of St. Mark had already made it celar that the Passover was near; and if St. John were straining for symbolism at any price, would he be the only one to note with emphasis that the multiplied loaves were barley loaves? This circumstance lends itself very awkwardly to Eucharistic symbolism.”