Folks who are accustomed to parties, dinning out and visiting neighbors have had to stay home. The restrictions imposed because of the pandemic have limited our social gatherings. Regardless of the limitations, Our Lord continues to share Himself with us.
The multiplication of the loaves and the fish took place in a crowd—five thousand men, not counting women and children—that’s a lot of people. The crowd had not come for lunch, they came for healing, since Jesus cured many who were sick. Obviously, the majority had not thought about food. When our stomach is full, we do not worry about getting hungry again. Sometimes when we overeat, we’ll say things like, “I’ll never eat again.” Of course, we change our mind when the food has digested, and our stomachs starts to growl. No doubt that’s what happened to the unprepared crowd who got caught by the passing of time in a place where food was not available. Jesus felt responsible for the conundrum since He was the reason that they were unprepared. The disciples did not want to assume responsibility. “Get rid of them”, was their solution. Which, by the way, is how most of us handle people in trouble—ignore them, close our eyes, think about something else. It’s none of our business until we make it our business. Jesus concluded the opposite. Everybody was His business until they chose not to be. The Lord continues to offer us His help but sometimes He is our last resort. We look to our own strength, to science, to human knowledge. We forget that Christ has the solution, even if we do not agree. Jesus never ignores us. Perhaps at times we feel like the Lord is not listening. However, the truth is that He is always listening, always caring, looking to take care of us.
Anyone can get lost in a crowd of five thousand people. Given our way of life, our tendency is to refer to folks as a statistic. In spite of the large number, every person had something to eat. We are treated with the same concern when we come to the Eucharist. We are nourished as a community, but also as individuals. We have all been to banquets where we felt taken for granted. If we had not shown up, no one would have missed us. In the Eucharistic Banquet each one of us is the guest of honor. No one is out of place, no one is insignificant, every person matters. Maybe we want to hide. Catholics have the reputation of wanting to be anonymous. We want to come in, got out, and not have to make a commitment. Can’t happen when we are the guest of honor.
The folks who ate the loaves and the fish were blessed to have been fed. However, they probably went back to their routines. Perhaps they never saw Jesus again. We are in a different reality when we come to the Eucharist. We eat and drink Jesus Christ and can never be the same. Jesus changes us. Once we eat His Body and drink His Blood, we cannot remain indifferent. He transforms us into His image. We are not only healed on the outside, we can experience spiritual healing, which is more important. If we think that the gift of the Eucharist sounds too good to be true, we are wrong. The Eucharist is too good, but true. Since we are into the system of rewards and punishment, we are tempted to want to earn what can never be earned. No penance, no sacrifice, no combination of prayers can make us worthy of the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, we have something in common with the folks who were at the multiplication of the loaves and the fish—we get something for nothing. We are always looking for a good deal. There is no better deal available. We receive salvation for nothing. All that the Lord asks from us is our love. Our response must be daily, starting with our family. Regardless of the trails we might face, the Eucharist makes us invincible.
Here we are fed with the Bread of Life—Bread from heaven—that nourishes our soul for eternal life.