The loaves and fish

June 19, 2022

Have you ever invited friends for dinner and had more show up than you expected? A lot more? Thousands more? Imagine the disciple who got five loaves of bread and two fish for Jesus and the Twelve and now was told to feed a crowd of more than five thousand. No wonder he asked Jesus to dismiss the crowd and let them find their own food. Surely the food for a small group couldn’t feed a crowd of thousands. But Jesus directs the disciples to ask the crowd to sit down in groups of fifty. It’s like a math problem now: five thousand men divided by fifty would make one hundred groups. Dividing up the crowd doesn’t sound any more promising! But Jesus divides the loaves and fish as well and gives them to the disciples to feed each group. And each man, woman, and child went home satisfied. Jesus, the Bread of Life, is able to feed everyone in need, whether it’s just the twelve apostles or a crowd of thousands. What was a scarce resource—these meager provision—was transformed into a resource so abundant that the leftovers far exceeded the original amount. In the same way, the bread and wine we offer is not only transformed into Jesus’s body and blood, it is transformed to a resource so abundant that we can receive it again and again, day after day, week after week. So it is with God’s mercy and love. They do not follow the ordinary rules of supply and demand because despite their infinite value, they are as abundant as the leftover fragments at the end of this day. And despite their infinite value, they are offered to us without cost. “Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus says twice at the Last Supper (1 Corinthians 11:24–25). He offers his precious Body and Blood for us all and asks that we do the same in his memory. We, the Church, are the body of Christ. Therefore, we are called to offer ourselves to others in his name. When we do so, we can feed thousands. What may seem impossible to provide on a huge scale—food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, welcome for the stranger, comfort for the sorrowing, justice for the oppressed, mercy for the sinful—can become a reality through the body of Christ. It is up to us, having received Christ’s body in this holy sacrament, to share this gift in abundance to those in need. Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World Library Publication, 2022)

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