There are six accounts of Jesus feeding multitudes in the Gospel. The early Church must have had great love for these miracles. There are accounts in all four of the Gospels. Matthew and Luke have two accounts. Today we read from Luke.
The story has overtones of the Last Supper and is also a story of mission. It echoes salvation history – God’s provision of food and water in the desert and the feeding miracles of Elijah and Elisha. At the same time it shows Jesus as the shepherd gathering his flock, feeding them and leading them home.
In all of the six accounts of feeding miracles, the miracles take place in the hands of Jesus. “He took the five loaves and the two fish……he broke them and handed them to the disciples to distribute to the crowds.” The pastoral implication of this is enormous. Eucharist is about not having enough. Maybe it is food, maybe it is money, maybe it is forgiveness or whatever. What do we do in an impossible situation? The answer is to bring the little we have got and put it into the hands of Jesus. The early Church saw this as the meaning of the Mass. The Eucharist is not a sacred object, but first and foremost “the bread of life given for us’.
Eucharist (the Mass) is a sacred meal that reveals God’s love for us in Jesus. In the Prayer of the Church today there is an antiphon written by St Thomas Aquinas: “O Holy banquet in which Christ is consumed. We remember his passion and death. Our mind is filled with grace and the promise of future glory.” What a promise!
We adore Jesus in the Eucharist. But the liturgy today urges us to a fuller meaning, a meaning of a paschal meal of remembrance and a pledge of grace and glory. It is a personal and social celebration.
Today we can remember central events of our faith that go back to Eucharist. Mass, Holy Communion, Priesthood and visits to the Blessed Sacrament are all part of what we call ‘The most Blessed Sacrament”. Remember also that the Mass is God gathering his people, nourishing them and sending them out.
Of course the task is impossible. There is never enough money or enough time. But impossible situations are Eucharistic moments in the hands of Jesus.