I consider it is helpful if we stand back and have a look at the Gospel message over those past and coming Sundays. We heard of Jesus sending out his apostles to preach the Good News.
Last week we saw, they reporting back on their experiences in going out as Jesus told them. Sadly, we have no account of those reports. Jesus suggests that they now have a rest after all their work. They head off to a lonely place but people knew where they were going in their boat. There they were waiting for them on the shore. Jesus takes pity on the crowds and starts speaking to them. It was evident that the people wanted to listen to his Word and so came from every town to hear him. There were with him all day, taking in every word. It was late in the evening so the people were hungry.
Here we take up the story of Jesus feeding the multitude. They had been fed on his Word during the day and now they were given food for the body. And so over the next three weeks, we can explore Jesus’ message on the Eucharist.
The feeding of the multitude has the formula of the Last Supper. Jesus took bread, gives thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples. Here we have the earliest description of the early church’s liturgy of the Eucharist. There is a clear understanding of the Lord giving himself in the Eucharist.
Notice too that for St John, all of this takes place at the time of Passover. It almost seems as if Jesus is replacing the Feast in his own person. He is now the Lamb; it is the shedding of his blood that saves; he is the Bread of Life giving us this same life in the Eucharist.
So when we come to celebrate each Mass, we are taking up all these elements. Over the Sundays, we listen in to the dialogue between Jesus and those who found it difficult to accept that he is able to give himself in Bread and Wine. They find it unacceptable and many go away.
Jesus is very clear: “I am the bread of life”. We have the opportunity to renew our understanding of the Mass we celebrate again and again. We can use fresh eyes and minds to clarify old truths in our faith. We pray for a deeper understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist.
Have a good week! Fr Joe