Seventeeth Sunday: We Have Enough for Them
“The people are hungry. Where can we get food for them,” Jesus said.
“Two hundred days wages would not be enough to feed them all,” replied Philip.
“There is a boy here with five barley loaves and two fish,” Andrew volunteered.
“Bring them to me and then feed the people.”
The multiplication of Bread and Fish is found twice each in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, once in Luke and once in John. In all these presentations Jesus takes the bread, breaks it, and gives it to the disciples. These same words are used at the Last Supper. However, there is a special focus in the Gospel of John. In John Jesus has a tremendous compassion for the people whom He sees as hungry for God. The multiplication is never referred to as a miracle. Rather it is a sign, a sign of the way that the Lord wants to feed us. He sees our weaknesses, our tendencies towards selfishness and anger and pride and He sees how we long to become very different than we are. He sees our mortality and our longing for eternity. The sign of the multiplication is the sign of the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Today we begin a five week discussion about the food that Jesus gives us. This Sunday’s Gospel begins the Sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, the chapter on the Bread of Life.
We are the disciples whom Jesus tells to feed the people. We don’t have enough to feed them all. We don’t have enough to provide for all their needs. This is true. But we bring what we have to the Lord and He transforms it into more and better than we can ever imagine. And then we feed His people. And we eat.
“But my faith is weak. My love is limited. I’m continually drawn away from the Lord. How can I make Jesus present to the other Teens, to the people I work with, to the people in the neighborhood, more important, to my family?”
“Take the faith you have, the love you have. Bring it to me. I will transform it. Look at what I did with five barely loaves and two fish. Bring what you have to me. It will be more than enough, more than enough for them, and for you.”
John 6 begins by saying that the multiplication took place at the time of the Passover. This isn’t just a random fact thrown in to enhance the story. On another Passover, at the Last Supper, Jesus would give His Body and Blood. The bread at the multiplication does not magically appear. He takes what they have. Then, He gives thanks. He pronounces “Eucharist”, that word means “Give Thanks.” He tells the disciples to gather up the leftover fragments. The Lord’s gift is His Body and Blood. Once transformed, it remains His Body and Blood. The fragments, the hosts not used during Mass, remain His Body and Blood. We place them in the tabernacle to feed Him to the sick. We place them in the tabernacle to adore His Eucharistic Presence. We take one and put it in a special container, a monstrance, the word means “showing” and we show the Divine Presence to the people and Bless them with His Presence. And we have Eucharistic Adoration.
My faith is weak. My love is limited. Your faith is weak. Your love is limited. But there are no limits with Jesus. We seek His Holy Presence, and He gives us His Body and Blood to take within us.
And then the real hunger begins. The more I eat of Him, the hungrier I get. I am hungry for Christ. You are hungry for Christ. The more we receive Him, the more we want Him. That is why retreats, weeks with the Lord, those special periods of the Church year, Lent-Easter, Advent-Christmas, all of these times don’t just strengthen the presence of the Lord in our lives, they lead us to want more. Such is the wonderful contradiction of Christianity in general and the Eucharist in particular. “He fills us, and yet He always leaves us wanting more.”
Martin Smith expressed the hunger this way:
Over the Mountains and the Seas
Your river runs with love for me
and I will open up my heart
and let the spirit set me free.
I'm happy to be in the truth
and I will daily lift my hands
for I will Always sing of
when your love came down.
I could sing of Your love forever.
I could sing of Your Love forever.
I could sing of Your Love forever.
I could sing of your Love forever.
Copyright © 2009 CCLI licence #2368115
This is the gift of the One who feeds us with His Body and Blood, and leaves us wanting more, more of Him. The wonderful contradiction: His Love is More than Enough for our Lives, and yet, we can’t get enough of you, Jesus.
May we celebrate and cherish the Gift of the Eucharist today and every day of our lives.