The point of today's Gospel is obviously twofold; (1) to give an account of a great miracle witnessed by many and (2) to tell a story about how sacrifices, no matter how small, even if they are intuitive, can be used for great things by God. In relation to the first purpose we have to remember that the Gospels are primarily documents giving witness to the Divine nature of Jesus- they are apologetic. You can almost imagine that this story just had to be included because presumably many people who had witnessed this miracle were still around and remembered the day well. What details they knew about the origins of their lunch are not clear. Possibly the immediate disciples, and the small boy, were the only ones who knew the full story. And it's that small boy that got me thinking.
Jesus used the sacrificial offering of a mere infant for great purposes on that day. Do we, today, have a tendency to over infantilise (if there is such a word) the spiritual potency of children? Do we avoid giving them credit for the spiritual insights that they have? After all how many times does Holy Scripture exhort us to be childlike in our approach to the faith. I suspect there is a tendency, indeed a presumption, that young children are not ready to cope with some elements of the faith, the Real Presence for example. More likely the adult authors of the catechetical material have been imposing their own doubts onto the minds of younger Christians for whom there is little problem with what we, as adults, tend to fret about.
Some years ago a fellow priest visited a house of a young family in a parish he was supplying in. It was within the first week and he was not well known. Certainly the children hadn't quite got to grips with his name. The mother of the house, greeting me at the door had a toddler to hand. 'You know Fr Brown don't you?' she said to the child. 'Yes' replied the child. 'He's the one who brings Jesus down to us from the altar.' As I heard the story of a toddlers simple act of faith all I could think of was; 'Well that explanation is fine to me'.