"Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.” (Luke 9:16)
There is a beautiful movement going on in today’s gospel. On the surface, we simply see the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, but if we dig deeper, we see elements of the Eucharistic celebration that we are taking part in right now. The gospel begins with Jesus speaking to the multitudes about the Kingdom of God. It was the homily if you will. After the teaching, the disciples want to send the people away from the deserted place to go find food and lodging. Jesus has other ideas when he tells them: “Give them some food yourselves.” Like the apostles, we always look for the simple solution. The apostles no doubt had probably had a long day and wanted to rest themselves. Jesus however wants them to go outside of themselves and find a different solution. So they bring before the Lord five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus blesses the food, breaks it and gives it to the disciples for the people to eat. This is the same movement that happens during the Mass: we bless the bread, break the bread and give the bread. And St. Luke tells us that all ate and were satisfied. I’ve asked this question before: are we satisfied when we receive the Eucharist?
The Eucharist is Christ’s great gift to us. In turn, because we receive this gift, we too must be gift for others. On this feast of Corpus Christi, our Holy Father Pope Francis said on Thursday: “Jesus speaks in the silence of the mystery of the Eucharist and reminds us each time that following him means going out of ourselves and making our lives not something we 'possess,' but a gift to him and to others…” Receiving the Eucharist should make us more like Christ. It should take us out of our comfort zone and lead us to go “out of ourselves” to be a gift to the Lord and to others. Our lives are not our own, they belong to God even though we go out of our way to constantly do what WE want. Receiving the Eucharistic should make us more selfless and make us long to do His will and not our own. The Holy Father continues, “The Eucharist is the sacrament of the communion that takes us out of our individualism so that together we live our discipleship...” We are indeed called to be a Eucharistic people: a people nourished by this Presence and called to share this Presence with others. It is a gift that calls us to be a gift for others. It should not draw us inward but out towards the service of others. The Eucharist should also lead us to hunger Christ all the more. It should lead us to a genuine desire to spend more time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. To sit there in quiet contemplation allowing Him to speak to us. Jesus longs to be with us. He calls us out of ourselves to enter into a real communion with him. We should always hunger for this presence. That is why I invite everyone in this parish to spend one hour with our Lord during the 40 Hour Devotion that we will have in the days leading up to our 40th Anniversary in two weeks. One hour so that we as a community may give thanks for the gift of our parish, pray for our parish, and pray for one another. It is there at the feet of the Master that we truly become one in Him. We must be a Eucharistic people. I long to see the fruits of those 40 hours of prayer because if each of us can dedicate one hour to Him, then the walls of Jericho will come tumbling down and the glory of the Lord will truly shine forth in all of you. The more we adore Him, the more we become like Him. The more we become like Him, the more the world will feel His presence through us!
On this Feast of Corpus Christi, we thank the Lord for this precious gift of the Eucharist, this “precious and wonderful banquet that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness,” as the angelic doctor Thomas Aquinas tell us. This gift calls us to be a gift, to go out of ourselves to be a gift for others. O divine Sacrament, help us to be a Eucharistic people, so that we may bring your loving presence to all those who hunger for you.