My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today, as I was saying before, we hear in our Gospel the beautiful and familiar story of our Lord’s multiplication of the loaves and fishes.
It is the beginning of the Gospel of St. John’s chapter 6 on the Bread of Life so in the next few weeks the Church wants us to reflect of the Eucharist.
And as we start our reflection on the Eucharist today, the real presence of Jesus in Holy Communion, I just wanted to share with you that the first thing that came to my mind as I was preparing for today’s Mass was that some time ago someone gave me a little piece of paper. This one.
And as you can probably see, in the one side it says: BE A SAINT. So I think it probably was given to me by the young people of our event for youth every year that is called City of Saints. It is actually happening this coming week at UCLA. We usually get about 1800 kids come for that beautiful event.
Anyway, in the one side it says, BE A SAINT. And on the other side it has some beautiful words of St. John Paul II where he says: “The Eucharist is the secret of my day. It gives strength and meaning to all my activities of service to the Church and to the world.”
It’s beautiful and I wanted to share with you that I keep this piece of paper with me all the time. Because it is true. The Eucharist, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us, is the ‘source and summit’ of our Christian life.
It’s true. If we want to be a saint it’s important for us to center our lives in the Eucharist.
And as we know, the Eucharist is the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament — his body, blood, soul and divinity, are present right here with us right here in the Eucharist.
God with us.
Isn’t that what sanctity is all about. God with us and we with God.
So what we are talking about in this Gospel today is the miracle of divine love, the communion of love that Jesus wants with each of us.
Just as Jesus came to the people of his day, he continues to come to us in our need, in our hunger. But Jesus knows that we are hungry — not only for bread. He knows that we are hungry for God. Hungry to know his truth, to know his love. To know the meaning of our lives.
As we see in the passage of the Gospel today, Jesus takes the bread, he gives thanks, and then he gives the bread to the people. This is exactly what he did at the Last Supper and what he continues to do in every celebration of the Eucharist.
Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, our Lord is still taking bread, and giving thanks, and feeding us with the bread of eternal life — and he is doing that through the hands of his priests.
The Eucharist is the true miracle of divine love and divine life.
The miracle of the Eucharist is the heart of the Church and it is also the heart of every Catholic parish. And my brothers and sisters, we need to make the Eucharist the heart of our lives and we need to grow in our love for the Eucharist.
Like those people in the Gospel today, we need to come to be with Jesus, to let him look at us and speak to us in our hearts. We need to try to be well prepared to receive him in Holy Communion every Sunday and also, as much as possible, try to spend time in prayer and adoration.
And this event of City of Saints that we have this coming week, it seems to me that the central moment of the whole event is the celebration of Mass and then an hour or so time for adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
It’s beautiful to see these young people in silence in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. They perceive immediately that that’s something special and that God is there.
So let us pray today to feel a new love for Jesus in the Eucharist. Let us love spending time with Jesus in the Eucharist!
But then, looking at our Gospel today, there are two things that called my attention and I think it will help all of us in our daily life. Because we see Jesus going out of his way to take care of people.
Isn’t it interesting that today’s Gospel starts with Jesus looking at the crowd — thousands of people — and saying to Philip: “Where can we by enough food for them to eat?”
And then, at the end of today’s passage of the Gospel we heard Jesus saying to the disciples: “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”
Jesus really cares for people. I think this is an extraordinary lesson for each one of us. Just as Jesus, we need to care for one another, especially for those who are more in need.
Today’s Gospel passage reminds us that there are many people in our city and in the world that do not have enough food to eat.
And I think sometimes when we see the challenges in our society — all the human needs and the suffering of people — and we feel like those apostles in the Gospel. We can all say: “Who am I? What can I do, I am just one person?” As they were saying, “It’s impossible to feed 5,000 people with what we have.”
That’s what the apostle Philip says in the today’s Gospel. He looks at the crowd of hungry people and he tells Jesus it is impossible to help them; they could never find enough money to buy bread to feed them.
And it is true: things do seem impossible when we are only thinking about ourselves and what we have, we think also of our own resources. But we need to remember, my dear brothers and sisters — with Jesus all things are possible.
So we are called to share what we have with love — just like that boy in the Gospel. He only has five loaves of bread and two fish — there is no way that could ever feed a crowd of 5,000 people.
But Jesus takes his little gift, which is all that the boy has to give, and Jesus turns his offering into a miracle for others.
And that is what we need to do. Whatever it is, as small as it looks to us — it’s possible that it makes a big difference.
Pope Francis was talking this morning in Rome about leftovers. What do we do with leftovers in our houses, in our own homes? He was saying: “Make sure that you take care of that. And what is leftover — give it somebody or do something good with that.”
It’s a beautiful, beautiful reflection. And it’s a reality that happens to all of us in our daily life. Especially you go and have a meal in restaurant — the pieces are so big you don’t know what to do with them. Isn’t it true?
It’s important for us to have that understand that as little as we can do, it can make a huge difference. And that’s what we ask God for each one of us today.
We ask God today for the courage to be like that young boy in the Gospel. To be like the apostles, believing, as sometimes it’s challenging for us that our own little thing, as St. Paul says in the second reading of today’s Mass.
Just whatever we can do, as little as it is, make a huge difference in the life of our brothers and sisters in our families and work everywhere.
So, to open our hearts to those in need and to share what we have; to make little acts of love, especially for the poor and the homeless.
So, this Gospel today can give us a lot space for reflecting on what it is that we can do in order to center our life in the Eucharist and also to be able, as Jesus, to serve our brothers and sisters.
So let us ask especially ask for the grace to grow in our faith in Our Lord’s presence in the Eucharist.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us be better disciples of Jesus. To be a saint. May she help us to use our gifts to serve others — to bring more gentleness, and more peace and unity and more love — to our world today.
1. Readings (17th Sunday in Ordinary Time): 2 Kings 4:42-44; Ps. 145:10-11, 15-18; Eph. 4:1-6; John 6:1-15.