THIS Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 14:13-21) tells us the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 men plus women and children with five loaves of bread and two fish, after which twelve baskets were filled with the leftover.
This is very much related to the First Reading (Isaiah 55:1-3). Here we see God inviting his people to “come and buy food without money and without price, to eat what is good, and to delight in rich food.” It is also closely attuned with a part of this Sunday’s psalm, “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:15-16).
Truly, God is concerned with the needs of his people. Just like a good father of a family, he feeds his children and looks after their welfare. All good gifts come from him (James 1:17); there is nothing we have that did not come from his generosity and love. As the Second Reading (Romans 8:35, 37-39) tells us, nothing can separate us from his love.
Yet the satisfaction that physical food brings is only momentary. We eat and become full, only to be hungry again. Jesus commands us, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:27).
And what is this food? Nothing and no one else but Jesus himself. He declares, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry…” (John 6:35).
Jesus’ miracle in feeding the multitude in the gospel is just a prelude of the greater miracle that he will perform in the Eucharist. By the Holy Spirit he proved his power over the natural laws. By his creative power he multiplied the bread and the fish, much more than what the people can eat.
By the same creative power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus gives himself to us in Holy Communion. Through consecration, the bread becomes his body, and the wine, his blood. As we receive his body, Jesus unites himself with us, we unite ourselves with him, and each believer unites himself with every other believer in the Church.
This is one of the most profound mysteries of our Christian faith. May God grant us the grace to fully see what our natural eyes cannot see.