My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
St. Matthew, in today’s passage of the Gospel, gives us a beautiful description of Jesus’ life and ministry.
Jesus is tired, he’s sad about the death of John the Baptist, and all he wants to do is to spend some time by himself and pray. But the people are following him. There’s a huge crowd. They’re thirsty, they’re hungry; it’s late and they’re a long way from home.
Then we heard that St. Matthew says:
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
His heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
So, Jesus is moved with compassion and he wants to feed these people. And obviously, it takes a miracle because they only have five loaves and two fish.
But Jesus uses also this occasion, not just to satisfy the hunger of this crowd. He uses this moment to teach us about the miracle of the Eucharist.
I’m sure that you noticed, also from St. Matthew’s Gospel, that Jesus takes bread, he says a blessing; then he breaks the bread, and gives it to his disciples. He did all those same things at the Last Supper. And we hear those same words every time we celebrate the Eucharist.
So at this time — challenging times that we live in — it is important for us to understand that Jesus reminds us today that we cannot live by bread alone.
The prophet Isaiah tells us in the first reading: “Why spend your money for what is not bread … for what fails to satisfy?”
What he means is that bread alone will never satisfy us. And that’s — I think it’s clear to all of us — that’s the lesson that we have learned during this pandemic. We’ve learned that it’s hard to be isolated from our friends and loved ones. We also have learned how challenging it is to be separated from the Church, from the Eucharist, from the Sacrament of Reconciliation — from our community.
That’s because, I think, inside all of us, there is hunger for something more than bread.
So today, my brothers and sisters, let us especially ask for the grace to never take the Church for granted. Now, that we know how it feels not to be able to be together — let’s never again take for granted the great gift that we have in the Holy Eucharist.
The truth is that Jesus alone will satisfy us. Money, material things, entertainment won’t satisfy us. As we know, at the end of the day, these things always leave us wanting more.
Only Jesus satisfies.
So let’s ask for that grace today, to deepen our love for our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.
But then at the same time, my dear brothers and sisters, as Jesus feeds us, he’s also calling us to go out and feed others.
Especially now that the world around us is hurting. We know that people are devastated, they’re afraid. But Jesus is calling his Church, each one of us, to go out and heal his people and rebuild his world.
And of course, as we heard in the second reading of today’s Mass, we know that God will help us to overcome the situation. St. Paul tells us today: Nothing can separate us from the love of God, in Chris Jesus our Lord. Not famine, persecution, or disease.
So as we reflect on the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can see clearly that he’s calling us to have same heart as he does — a heart that’s moved with pity and compassion.
And then he tells his disciples, in the passage of the Gospel: You, yourselves, you give them something to eat.
He’s calling each one of us, my dear brothers and sisters, to do that same. We are the ones responsible for the Church’s mission. We need to go out into the world and share this bread that we have been given. To share our faith in Jesus Christ. To share his love, and mercy, and tenderness.
And of course, we can see that charity is essential, working for justice in society is essential! We really need to build a world where all life is sacred and people are treated with dignity.
So our mission in the Church demands that we continue to support people in need, as we are doing in so many ways in the Archdiocese, in our parishes and schools. Always, but especially now in this difficult time.
But at the same time, we know that people are also hungry for things of the spirit, for beauty, for truth, for holiness. They want the living bread that comes from heaven. They’re hungry for Jesus.
That’s our mission, my brothers and sisters, in this moment in the Church. So let’s commit ourselves to loving as Jesus loves and let’s keep looking for new ways to feed the spiritual hunger that people have, to bring them to Jesus, to the bread of life that he offers.
And let us stay always close to Mary our Blessed Mother. May she help us to have a great love for the Eucharist and a great desire to love and care for others, as Jesus cares for us.
1. Readings: Isa. 55:1-3; Ps. 145:8-9, 15-18; Rom. 8:35, 37-39; Matt. 14:13-21.