Fr. Steve’s homily (07/26/2015)

John Chapter 6 is all about the Eucharist, and the Eucharist is, as the Catechism teaches, us “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Catechism #1324).

In today’s miraculous multiplication of the loaves, Jesus teaches us two critical things about this most Blessed Sacrament.

1. This multiplication of the loaves resembles the Mass, which is the perpetual celebration of the Eucharist.

St. John tells us that “the Jewish feast of the Passover was near,” and we know that on the feast of Passover, during the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist.

• Some people from the crowd bring a few offerings to Jesus – the loaves and fish, just like our offertory after the Creed. And what did Jesus do? He “gave thanks” and then “distributed” the food. This mirrors perfectly the second half of Mass. In the Eucharistic prayer the priest gives thanks to God on behalf of the congregation, and then he distributes Holy Communion.

• And to top it all off, St John specifies that there were basketfuls of bread and fish leftover, and Jesus instructed his apostles to gather them together and preserve them. That’s exactly what we do with the hosts that remain after Communion; we gather them in the ciboria and reserve them in the tabernacle.
All of this is no accident. Jesus is not just giving the crowds a free lunch to show them God’s generosity and concern; he is also getting them ready to understand the Eucharist.

2. The second critical thing that today’s Gospel tells us about the Eucharist is that we really need it.

• The crowds following Jesus had no food. And the disciples had no money to buy food. The five loaves and two fish were simply not enough to do the job. The apostles were at the end of their rope; they were helpless; they could do nothing to satisfy the needs of the people. Only the power of God was sufficient to meet the needs described by these passages of the Bible.

The same thing goes for us today. To live the lives of wisdom, courage, hope, faith, and self-giving that we are called to live, in a sin-infected culture that is like a desert, void of all those virtues, we need God’s help. And he gives it to us, by feeding us with his very own wisdom, faith, courage and strength, through the Eucharist.

Every Mass is a celebration of this great gift of the Eucharist. Giving us the Eucharist, the supernatural nourishment of Christ’s own body and blood, was God’s idea. And he came up with this idea because he looked out at us, saw the depths of our hearts, and knew that we needed his help, his love, his grace. Task: live the reality of the Eucharist. Remember: we are NOT ALONE.

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