Taking, Blessing, Breaking and Distributing
Jesus had withdrawn to a deserted place where He could be away from the crowds. Yet, the crowds found and followed Him. Jesus always compassionate healed those who were sick. As evening approached, the disciples wanted to send the crowds away so they could buy food. Jesus however feeds the crowd of over five thousand with only five loaves and two fish.
Those who deny miracles, try to suggest that Jesus persuaded those who had food to share with those had none. Such rationalistic explanation misses the whole drama of being in the wilderness with no food, just like during the Exodus of old. It also ignores the careful wording Saint Matthew uses in the story.
Saint Matthew says that Jesus, took the bread and fish, blessed them, broke them and distributed them to these hungry crowds. Taking, blessing, breaking and distributing. Later in the gospel Matthew will also use the same words describing what happened at the Last Supper Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the apostles to eat. The same words and the same actions which also occur at Holy Mass, where the priest, in the name of Jesus, takes bread, blesses it, breaks it and distributes it to the people.
The multiplication of the loaves and fishes is a deeply symbolic story, a historic incident that points to the past in the manna of the Exodus and to the future in the Eucharist. Let us also remember that the Holy Mass is symbolic of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb to be experienced one day in heaven.
Isaiah in our first reading has spoken of a time when God will invite the poor to obtain corn, wine and milk without money or cost. Jesus lived out this prophecy as He fed the crowd with the loaves and fishes, and as He continues to live out this prophecy as He feed us with His Sacred Body and Blood in the Most Holy Eucharist.
Because of the fears caused by the Covid-19 Virus, a number of our parishioners have stopped coming to church and are no longer being fed with the Holy Eucharist. It is understandable for the elderly and those with health concerns either for themselves or family members to refrain coming for a time.
In ancient Rome, Catholics risked their homes and goods being confiscated, being put in jail and even death in the coliseum for attending Sunday Mass in order to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. They did so because they believed in the real presence of Jesus in Holy Communion and in His words; “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day; for my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.”
For those who are able, let us continue to gather as a community of believers to receive the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion. For those who are unable, please remember to make a Spiritual Communion every Sunday or even daily, inviting Jesus into your hearts and lives during this difficult time.