“And all ate and were satisfied.” (Luke 9:17)
Last Sunday, the central focus of our reflection was on the mystery of the Trinity. Today, our celebration centers on another central aspect of our Christian Faith; the Holy Eucharist – Jesus’ body and blood under the appearance of bread and wine.
In today’s first reading, we see that bread and wine featured prominently in the blessing of Abram by Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God. Meanwhile, in our second reading, St. Paul provides a succinct catechism of the Holy Eucharist quoting Jesus’ own words at the Last Supper. We see the divine mercy of Jesus displayed in today’s Gospel passage when he decided to feed the five thousand instead of sending them away hungry. No doubt, there are many lessons for us to learn today.
1. The Holy Eucharist shows us the Depth of God’s Love for Us.
In the feeding of the five thousand, one obvious lesson we learn is that we serve a God who is more interested in our physical as well as spiritual wellbeing. Jesus would not allow the crowds to go away hungry. He felt their plight and worked a miracle to feed them. This same feeling of love and concern is what inspired our Lord Jesus to sacrifice His own flesh and blood for us on our behalf. As St. Paul concludes in today’s second reading, “As often we eat this bread and drink this chalice, we proclaim the Lord’s death.
As Jesus noted, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Holy Communion is deeper than just a ritual. Do not become too familiar with it that you fail to reflect on its inner meaning. Each time you approach the Holy Eucharist, bear in mind that you are encountering the purest love ever shown to mankind. In the Holy Eucharist, we come before a God who would stop at nothing to provide for the needs of His children even if it means shedding His own blood. There is no prayer that God would not answer when we present it as we receive Holy Communion.
2. The Holy Eucharist Unites Us.
In the miracle of the loaves, we would notice that Jesus instructs His disciples saying: “Make them sit down in companies, about fifty each.” This little detail carries a lot of meaning. The Eucharist is a meal that requires the bonding of hearts and minds together. When we partake of the Eucharist, we all eat and drink from one bread and one chalice. Keeping enmity with one another, fighting or backbiting should no longer exist in our community since we all share the same source of nourishment.
Apart from sitting together in companies, Jesus used the occasion to teach us the importance of sharing what we have with others. The miracle of the loaves and fishes did not happen all of a sudden, it was a miracle that kept happening each time the bread and fish were broken and shared. Selfishness or self-centeredness are vices we must constantly eschew from our lives as Christians. The more we share the little we have, the more it increases. If we come to partake in the Eucharist, we must also go home to become “Eucharist” to others by breaking and sharing our gifts, our resources, our time and all we have with others.
3. The Eucharist is Tied to the Priesthood.
Do you notice that without the priesthood, there is no Holy Eucharist and without the Holy Eucharist, there is no priesthood? In fact, it was right there at the Last Supper that the Priesthood began. When Jesus said to the twelve, “Do this in memory of me” He was basically giving them the power of the priesthood. The entire life of the priest revolves around the Holy Eucharist. Just as Melchizedek blessed Abram, the priest basically is ordained to bless the people.
We must avoid the temptation of looking down on our priests so as not to fall into the error of Jesus’ close relatives who regarded Him simply as the carpenter’s son. Mark tells us that Jesus “could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And He marvelled because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:5-6). Today, the priesthood is severely under attack, and the sins and mistakes of a few are blown out of proportion by the media. Satan’s real aim is to prevent mankind from the Holy Eucharist, the food of our souls, but he knows the only way to get to the Eucharist is by first destroying the priesthood.
4. The Eucharist is Food for our Souls.
Our final lesson today comes from our Gospel acclamation. Here we hear Jesus say: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…” (John 6:51). Are you a communicant? When last did you receive the Holy Eucharist worthily and in a state of grace? What is stopping you from taking Holy communion today?
If Jesus has given us His own flesh and blood, it is because He knows that as our bodies need food to survive, our souls also need the Eucharist to survive. The more we strive to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, the more we strive to live a sinless life and the more we receive Jesus, the more we become strengthened with more grace and power to be holier Christians. Do not stay away from communion, it is your ticket to eternal life.
Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, deepen our appreciation and devotion to the Holy Eucharist. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Gen. 14:18-20, Ps. 110:1-4, 1 Cor. 11:23-26, Luke 9:11-17)
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu