A reflection for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. First Reading: Genesis 14:18-20; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Gospel: Luke 9:11-17
The Gospel today is the story of the loaves and the fishes. Many people had gathered to listen to Jesus, to hear his words of life and hope, and to be healed. At the close of the day, the disciples told Jesus to send the crowd away so that the people could find food and lodging. But Jesus said, feed them yourselves. And despite the little food they had, just five loaves of bread and two fish, they fed five thousand people, and had food leftover.
In the Eucharist—in the breaking of bread—God chose a most amazing way to be in relationship with us. What better way to celebrate and enjoy the company of others than by sharing a meal with them. Is this not a way of letting people know how we feel about them, of making them know that they are important to us? A meal with others is a time to pause, give thanks, serve, savour, share, enquire, talk, listen, learn, and laugh. When we are invited to a meal, do we not experience the hospitality and generosity of our hosts? Do we not feel their kindness and love?
Before we receive the Eucharist, we take time to acknowledge our sins. We call to mind our weaknesses, the times when we have felt resentful, small, fearful, stingy, hard hearted. We ask our merciful God for the strength to live as Jesus calls us to live—abundantly, generously, hopefully, mercifully, compassionately, in communion with others, as peacemakers and justice-seekers. We ask God to help us to see our struggles, our life journey, as part of a bigger picture—as part of the unfolding of the Reign of God.
Many years ago, I was standing in a long line during an extremely crowded Easter Mass and I could see several other long lines of people throughout the church. To me it seemed that we all shuffled forward with hearts full of yearning, each bearing our own private hopes and struggles. Deep in our hearts we were all hoping to receive something precious, something generously given. Yet even after breaking the host into tinier and tinier pieces, the last of the Communion was shared and some people were sent away empty-handed, hungry. I’ve experienced this only a couple of times since that day and it still saddens me whenever it happens. The Communion song says:
All that we have and all that we offer
Comes from a heart both frightened and free.
Take what we bring now and give what we need.
All done in God’s name.
We go to the Eucharist, to the Bread and Wine, with hearts bruised and broken but filled with thanksgiving. As we draw near, may we be nourished and filled with the knowledge of God’s great love for us in the person and life of Jesus. In the sharing of this meal, may we hear God inviting us to live in this beautiful but injured world as a community of disciples, as the Body of Christ. Amen.