Adapted from Archbishop José H. Gomez’s July 26 homily at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
As I’m sure you know how, our Holy Father Pope Francis appointed three new auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles July 21.
Two of the new bishops are priests from L.A.— Msgr. Joseph Brennan and Msgr. David O’Connell. The other is a priest from the Archdiocese of Chicago — Father Robert Barron.
Our Holy Father has given us new bishops who are good priests — men of prayer and men of service. He has given us new bishops who have a heart for the poor and a passion to share the good news of God’s mercy and love with everyone in the world today.
So I’m also very grateful to our Holy Father Pope Francis for his concern and care for the pastoral needs for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It is a great joy for all of us to welcome these new three bishops to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The reading of the Gospel this morning is from St. John. The first thing we notice in the beautiful story of the miracles of the loaves and fishes is the reaction of Jesus — the human emotion of Jesus Christ.
A huge crowd was gathered to hear him, 5,000 people at least have come to him. And now the day is almost over and they’re far from home with nothing to eat.
Jesus knows they are hungry and he wants to feed them. We can feel how much he cares for them, he loves them. His heart is moved and he really wants to take care of them.
But we notice something else, too. How does Jesus perform his miracle? First he makes his apostles aware of the needs of the people.
We heard his dialogue with them:
Jesus said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.
My brothers and sisters, I think Jesus is helping the apostles and all of us to be aware — to be sensitive to the needs of others, especially the needs of those who are closest to us in our families, and those who are most in need.
This is what Jesus wants us to do.
So, if we are listening to Jesus in our prayer, as we are, he will make our hearts open to others so that we can serve them.
Now, what happens next in our Gospel?
The apostles find a boy who has five barley loaves and two fishes. And then Jesus tells the apostles to have the people sit down.
So you see, he wants the apostles to be aware of the needs of others, but he also wants the Apostles to help him — to be part of his mission.
At every step, as we can see in the Gospels, Jesus is working through his apostles. He opened their hearts to the needs of the people and then he involves them in finding a solution.
And it is the same with us. Jesus needs us, each one of us, to help him to help others. Jesus needs us to prepare others so they can receive the gift he wants to give to them, the gift of God’s love, the gift of the Eucharist.
Jesus took the bread, gave thanks and then gave the bread to the people. Sounds familiar. We hear it every time we come to Mass.
At the Last Supper, Jesus did exactly the same thing. He took bread, he gave thanks and gave the bread to his disciples.
Through this miracle of feeding the 5,000, Jesus is showing us an even greater gift, a greater miracle — the greatest of all truths in the universe — the reality of the Eucharist.
When Jesus Christ is really present in the bread and the wine that become his Body and his Blood.
So we need to feel the importance of the Eucharist in our lives, our Christian lives! It is our spiritual food and drink. Jesus himself is feeding us, just as he fed the 5,000 people.
Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, our Lord is still taking bread, and giving thanks and giving us the bread of eternal life — he is doing that through the hands of his priests.
So we can never be casual about the Eucharist. We need to come to Jesus with reverence and awe, understanding that the miracle that happens every time we come to Mass is bigger, greater than feeding 5,000 people with no food.
So the Gospel today talks to us about the miracle of the Eucharist. But again, it talks to us also about how Jesus wants us to be part of his mission and he wants us to collaborate with him and bring God to the people and the people to God.
Even at the end of the passage of the Gospel, as we heard, Jesus trusts his apostles with collecting the leftovers. And the leftovers, you notice, fill exactly 12 baskets. One for each of the apostles.
So this is a message for us, my brothers and sisters, Jesus is calling all of us, in every moment, to help him meet the needs of the people around us.
So every time that we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, it is a call — personal call — for us to go and share that with the people around us and serve them and do our best to make them happy in learning about the beauty, God’s love for each one of us.
He wants us to be sensitive to their needs. He wants us to share our bread with the hungry. Jesus wants us to bring people to God, to bring people to the Eucharist.
So today, let us especially ask for the grace to be always grateful for the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, to be well prepared to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, to go as often as we can — at least every Sunday.
And then let us ask for the grace to go out and be the apostles of Christ in the 21st century. To be like those Twelve, helping Jesus in feeding the people and bringing joy and peace to the people of our time.
Let us thank God also for our new auxiliary bishops. Let us pray for our Holy Father Pope Francis.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary, Queen of the Angels, to help us be better apostles — serving those around us with love and charity.