MATTHEW 14 13 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. 15 When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” 16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17 And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. 20 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. 21 Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Let us examine carefully what this sending away of the crowds is all about. Some of those who followed Christ were afflicted by evil spirits and begged to be delivered from them. Others were afflicted with various sicknesses from which they sought relief. Therefore, because the disciples knew that Jesus had only to consider what those who were suffering longed for and it would be accomplished, “they sent them away.” They did this not so much because they thought Jesus’ time was too valuable but because they had a love for the crowds and, as though already having an understanding of pastoral care, they began to care for the people.
(St. Cyril of Alexandria)