My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As I was saying, the Church is asking us to continue our reflection on the Eucharist and the mystery of the Eucharist.
Today’s Gospel continues the story that we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel. Last Sunday’s Gospel was about the multiplications of the loaves and fishes that Jesus performed to feed the people by the Sea of Galilee.
So we just heard today how the people followed Jesus across the Sea to Capernaum. They wanted to see another miracle. They wanted another sign that Jesus is the Messiah.
That is what they are talking about in the Gospel that we just heard. So the people in the Gospel today are thinking that Jesus is just a prophet, like Moses.
This is why we heard that first reading from the Book of Exodus. We see, in that reading, that God has always been involved in the life of his people. They’re hungry in the desert, they’re losing their faith, their hope and God gives them a sign of his tender love, his compassion.
We heard God’s own words
I will rain down bread from heaven for you.
Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion. …
In the morning you shall have your fill of bread,
so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God.
Bread from heaven! Heavenly food for the journey. What a beautiful promise.
But God is like that, my dear brothers and sisters. This is who God is. He hears our cries, our concerns. He’s our Father and he knows that we are hungry, he knows that we need things to live.
I’ve been reflecting a lot in the last few months on the fact that God is our creator. That he’s our Father, and that he has a plan for us.
Unfortunately sometimes, we think that we have a better plan. But I think the readings of today’s Mass help us to understand how much God loves us and that he really has a beautiful plan for each one of us.
So he’s our Father. He knows that we need material things. He knows that. He made the good things of this earth for everyone to share. God wants us to have jobs and homes and health care, and love and mercy in our communities.
He knows that we need material things. That’s also part of the Gospel. In fact, it is the basis for all the social teachings of the Church and all the Church’s social works for charity and social justice.
Because God wants us to be the society that respects human life and that provides what people need to live a dignified life.
That’s the beauty of God’s plan that is accomplished many times through our own lives — to care and love for other people — and also through the social ministry through the Church.
But there is even more to life than that. God wants to give us so much more than food. So much more than material things. And that’s what Jesus is talking about in today’s Gospel.
Yes, we need to nourish our body, but we also need to nourish our soul.
We do not live by bread alone, we live by God. We live by the daily bread that he gives us from heaven, the bread of the Eucharist. As Jesus says in today’s passage of the Gospel:
My Father gives you the true bread from heaven
for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world
My brothers and sisters, the Eucharist is the sign of God’s love that Jesus gives to us, every day, and every hour, every moment he is in the Tabernacle, as we know, waiting for us to come to him.
He is there, for us.
Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, God’s love is made real. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross is made present. Everytime we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus gives his body and blood for us and for our salvation. For the life of the world.
This is how much God loves each one of us. This is the answer to every cry in our heart, every doubt that we have, every need that we have. We find answers to our needs in the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is a sign that he wants to be with us. That he wants to be part of our lives. It’s Jesus — the real presence of Jesus — in the Eucharist, as we know. His body, his blood, his soul, his divinity. He comes to be with us in the celebration of Holy Mass and the reception of the Eucharist.
He comes to feed us with his body, with his own blood, so that we can live. It’s a beautiful gift. It’s awesome. We just need to be able to understand clearly what he means that God wants to be with us in the Eucharist. We will try to be there everyday because it is so beautiful.
And the Eucharist is meant to feed us, as I said, but it is also meant to change us. St. Paul says in today’s second reading:
Put away the old self of your former way of life …
and put on the new self,
created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.
Jesus in the Eucharist — giving himself to us in the Eucharist — also wants to change our hearts. He wants to make us a new self. A self that is holy and good and true.
So it is a beautiful reflection to really think of what it means, the celebration of Holy Mass and also the reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It is, as I said, just a remarkable reality that God wants to be with us.
So today, as we reflect on that and give thanks to God for the Eucharist, let us also ask for the grace to be aware of how much God loves of us — a beautiful plan he has for us — and also how he wants us to share that with the people around us.
Because the life of a Christian is not just taking care of ourselves, as we know. We have to give ourselves to others as Jesus gives himself to us.
We are here to give and to do good for others, as Jesus did. This is the way we know that the Eucharist is working in our hearts.
As Jesus says, in today’s passage of the Gospel, when people asking him about the works of God. There’s a beautiful phrase in the Gospel, this is chapter six of St. John’s Gospel, that I reflect on a lot because it makes a big difference when we really understand what Jesus is talking about.
They ask him, what can we do to accomplish the works for God? And he says — he answers them — this is the work of God:
That you believe in the one he sent, the One who comes to us in the Eucharist.
So today, we need to have a greater faith in the Eucharist, a greater faith in God’s love. We need to be like the people at the end of today’s Gospel. We need to ask, like they did, “Jesus, give us this bread always. Give us this bread from heaven.”
And let’s give thanks to God for the beauty of God’s presence among us in the Eucharist. And let us ask for the grace to change, to really be taking care of our brothers and sisters out there.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary help us to answer the invitation of Jesus — to open the door of our heart to his beautiful love in the Eucharist.
1. Readings (Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B): Exod. 16:2-4, 12-15; Ps. 78:3-4, 23-25, 54; Eph. 4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35.