“You give them something to eat.” Mt. 14:16

Today the Church announces the famous Gospel which talks about Jesus feeding the 5,000 people in the desert. This Gospel reading talks about the 5,000 but it really is about the Holy Eucharist which is the true Bread of Life of the people of God even to this day.

This Gospel speaks about bread which is the source of life, but it also is about our need to share, community, love for one another, these are all elements we need to attain eternal life.

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Jesus today speaks about sharing, not the multiplying of bread. He does not take the bread and make 5,000 extra leaves. He takes the five loaves and 2 fish, says a prayer, breaks them, and hands them to the disciples. The bread does not run out. He tells them to trust in God.  “You give them something to eat.”

We might look on what happened as a magic trick, but it is actually a call to service.

Jesus heals the sick because they are sick. He turns the water into wine to save a family from embarrassment. He feeds the people because they are hungry. Jesus does not do things to turn attention unto Himself. He is here to serve others.

The world is full of hungry people. I’m not talking about their lack of bread, but the hunger which comes from the lack of unity with the real Bread of Life- Jesus.

In the Gospel of John where we hear about the exact same miracle. There we read that the next day the same people went into the hills to find Jesus and to make Him a “King”. Jesus tells them, “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but the food which leads to eternal life.” (John 6: 27)

In all of this we can begin to understand what happened on Holy Thursday. When the disciples were at the table. He took bread and broke it and said, “I am the bread of life.” John 6:35)

Jesus can feed the 5,000.  He can continue to feed all of us throughout all the ages. This is really at the centre of all that we do in church today and every Sunday. We receive the bread of life, and in faith go out into the world to reach out to other people who are hungry.

The world is full of hungry people. I’m not talking about their lack of bread, but the hunger which comes from the lack of unity with the real Bread of Life- Jesus. I speak of the sick, the suffering, the lonely, the unloved, the lost, those without meaning in life, those disconnected from others.

St John Chrysostom says that “each one of us must be the human altar on which this bread is broken and those in need are fed.”

There are more than 5,000 of them. The work of service is unlimited, but those who have the Bread of Life in their hearts, are not afraid. There are many of us. The church is big. It’s all over the world. We have the communities for support. We have the structures.

This is how Jesus wants us to look at the church. This is what those not in the church expect from us who are in church. “You give them something to eat.”

St John Chrysostom says that “each one of us must be the human altar on which this bread is broken and those in need are fed.”

Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM

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