“You open your hand to feed us, Lord: you satisfy all our needs.” The words of our Psalm response today certainly ring true in this Sunday’s Gospel! Jesus shows his great compassion for the multitude by feeding them- and what began as 5 loaves, and two small fish, ends up being an overabundance, which produces twelve baskets of leftover fragments. No wonder the people in the Gospel were amazed, and began to speak of Jesus as a prophet!
There’s a temptation, when we read about the miracle of the multiplication, to reduce this story to a “miracle of sharing.” This certainly would be the easy explanation of what took place. But with faith, and especially with miracles, sometimes the easy answer isn’t the best answer, or the one that will enable us to be drawn deeper into the mystery, or to understand the deeper lesson that the miracle is trying to convey.
When we really ponder the miracle of the multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, I think that we begin to see the incredible Eucharistic overtones present in this miracle. As we read the remainder of the sixth Chapter of John’s Gospel over the next few weeks, and as we listen to the Bread of Life Discourse, we will be given an opportunity to unpack some of these themes and overtones. We will hear how Jesus gives us his flesh to eat and his blood to drink, and that if we want to enter into eternal life, we must receive this food. We will hear how the crowds, who wanted to make Jesus king at the end of today’s reading, will leave him, because his teaching is different than what they were expecting.
As we journey through Jesus’ teaching on the Eucharist in John’s Gospel over the next few weeks, I pray that we may all be drawn deeper into the Mystery of the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, and approach this great Source and Summit of our Faith with due honour and reverence. May we recognize that through the Eucharist, the Lord truly feeds us, and satisfies all our needs.
This weekend, the church throughout the world celebrates the First World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly. This day, occurring one day before the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus, centers on the theme “I am with you always”- the words that Jesus spoke to his Apostles before he ascended into Heaven. Not only is this a reminder to us that God never abandons us- but it is also a reminder of the special closeness that we are called to have with the older members of our community- a closeness which has been difficult due to the realities of the pandemic.
In his letter to the faithful to mark this occasion, Pope Francis calls to mind three ways that the elderly members of our society can help to “renew our troubled society.” He speaks about the importance of sharing dreams, sharing memories, and living in a spirit of prayer. His reflections on this topic are worth reading, and I encourage you to read his whole letter, which can be found at this link. https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/nonni/documents/20210531-messaggio-nonni-anziani.html
May God continue to send his blessing down upon all Grandparents, and upon all the elderly members of our Family of Parishes!
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB