– Fr. Lino Moreira OSB

Every single day, from the time of the apostles until now, the Church never ceases to repeat the words and gestures of Jesus at the Last Supper in joyful obedience to his commandment: “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Co 11: 24.25). According to Saint Paul, the Lord Jesus said, after breaking the bread: “This is my body which is for you” (1 Co 11: 24). And then, holding the cup in his hand, he declared: This cup is the new covenant of my blood (1 Co 11: 24). What was ordinary bread was thus turned into the body of Christ offered upon the altar of the cross for the redemption of the world; and what was simply wine became the blood of the true Paschal Lamb, a blood which sealed forever the new covenant between God and his people. And this miracle of making a reality in the here and now of the one single sacrifice for sins that Jesus offered (cf. Heb 10:12) as High Priest of the order of Melchizedec (cf. Heb 5:10) continues whenever an assembly of believers comes together to celebrate the Eucharist. In fact, our daily Mass is also called the Memorial of the Lord’s Passion for the very reason that it brings into the present of our concrete lives the sacrifice of reconciliation whereby we have been saved. As Saint Paul reminds us today: as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Co 11: 28).

So what we vividly experience at every Eucharist is that – for our sake and for our sake only – the Lord Jesus became a grain of wheat that fell into the earth to die (cf. Jn 12:4). Is there anything we can do in return for so much love? Jesus answered this question when he said at the Last Supper: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn 13:34). We are invited then to emulate the one who came into the world not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (cf. Mt 20:28) – and in today’s third reading Saint Luke shows us how we should respond to this extraordinary invitation. So let us now turn our attention to the gospel account, albeit very briefly.

Jesus said to the twelve apostles, who were worried about the hungry crowds:  – “You give them something to eat” (Lk 9:13). On hearing these words, the disciples immediately thought that five loaves and two fish were hardly enough for themselves, let alone for a crowd of about five thousand men. Jesus then revealed himself as the one who can feed the whole of God’s creation: taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and had their fill. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces (Lk 9:16-17).

The first lesson to be learned from this miracle is that the Son of God will always put more than enough into our hands to satisfy our needs and the needs of others; if only we are willing to share our material possessions. But we should also note that in order to feed the five thousand at Bethsaida Jesus performed the act of breaking bread, which he would repeat at the Last Supper, saying: “This is my body given for you” (Lk 22:19). Therefore another lesson to be learned from today’s gospel is that to imitate Christ – to emulate his love for us – is not merely a question of sharing what we possess, but much more a matter of giving ourselves to others just as he gives himself to us in the form of bread and wine every time we celebrate the Eucharist. Saint Teresa of Calcutta is reported to have said: “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” But she never lost hope, and neither do we, because Jesus gave us both the power and the means to satisfy all forms of hunger, he who said of himself: “I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever hunger; no one who believes in me will ever thirst” (Jn 6:35).

Subscribe To Our Newsletter To Receive Updates