My Dear Sisters and Brothers! When it comes to food our expertise is very poor as we don’t know hunger. Many of us know dieting instead. However this abundance of food makes more difficult for us to appreciate the Eucharist. How different we are to the people from the Gospel passage for this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. They were hungry. Why were they hungry? Simple answer would be because they didn’t eat for the whole day. However their empty tummies indicated that they hungered and thirsted for what is right as Jesus said in the Beatitudes. The verses preceding today’s Gospel tell us that after Jesus and his Apostles left for Bethsaida to be alone the crowd of people they left behind went on a hunting trip. They were hunting Jesus because his words gave them a new hope for what is right, for righteousness. In the Bible righteousness means to restore to a right relationship with God and with the people around. They hungered and thirsted for what is right so badly that they didn’t take any supplies with them. Those people knew that they were struggling with their relationships with God and others. They were desperate to be restored to a right relationship with God and the people around them. Are we different to them? Just think how much interest the last two synods on the family have generated. It’s been because people of our generation hunger and thirst for what is right too, even if some contemporary ideas about relationships will never sustain and support lasting relationships, doesn’t matter how widely and how loudly those ideas are promoted.
It was late afternoon when the Apostles came to Jesus with a great pastoral solution: Send the people away. They also identified why this pastoral solution was necessary: there was no lodging and food for the crowd. How did Jesus handle the challenge? Did he multiply fife loaves of bread and two fish? None of the Evangelists speaks about multiplication. Those American movies showing Jesus getting one loaf after another from a basket may look impressive but they don’t reflect what Jesus did. St Luke, as we could hear, said that Jesus broke the bread and the fish and passed them on. What happened next? The person who got a piece didn’t run away to consume it alone but they must have continued what Jesus did. They must have kept breaking what they had received to offer a piece to the next person. That’s when the miracle occurred. The miracle occurred because first, by his divine preaching, Jesus turned the hearts of those people from selfishness and self-absorbance to generosity and caring for each other.
Can you still remember, what was the other reason for the Apostles to send the people away? There was no lodging. Did Jesus create free apartments? He did much more. When, by his divine teaching, he turned people’s hearts to generosity and caring for each other he created that best piece of architecture ever – a community. This is the story of the Church, of the people who hunger and thirst for what is right, coming to break the Bread. But first we always listen to the divine teaching of our Blessed Lord so that our hearts could be generous and caring, ready to share with others what we receive here.
Some years ago I witnessed a conversion of a woman who came to believe in Jesus and was baptised. Now there is no month passing without her brining to Mass someone who doesn’t go to church. I always wander whether she is the only Catholic with so many nonbelieving friends. Or maybe she still clearly remembers the time when she didn’t have a right relationship with God and had bad relationships with people but she was restored to a right relationship with God and with the people around her.