Jesus reached the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and he went up into the hills. He sat there, and large crowds came to him bringing the lame, the crippled, the blind, the dumb and many others; these they put down at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were astonished to see the dumb speaking, the cripples whole again, the lame walking and the blind with their sight, and they praised the God of Israel.
But Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them off hungry, they might collapse on the way.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this deserted place to feed such a crowd?’ Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said ‘and a few small fish.’ Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves and the fish, and he gave thanks and broke them and handed them to the disciples, who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected what was left of the scraps, seven baskets full.
Ordinary bread is a reminder of the Eucharist. Jesus feeds in the ordinary among the people. The fragments left over have been our bread ever since. From this gospel mystery we know we are always worthwhile in God’s eyes. Everyone is fed. We approach the bread of life not because we are saints, but because we need it.
We know also that our offering is worth it: 5 loaves and 2 fish of the poorest type. The leftovers on the shelf, the sardines only the poor ate: the boy had no idea of where his offering would lead. We never know where love will bear fruit.
God is with us in the ordinary – the God of the table not just the temple. Where we are in life, he finds us, and feeds us most when we are most empty. We have often blocked good people from the table of God for too long.
He will feed us always – more than enough love in the heart of God for all. The meal of today has lasted, and the Eucharist is the central prayer and activity of the church. We minister the bread of life now to each other.
At Mass we meet the Lord Jesus, in his death and resurrection – each Mass is our entering into this mystery of prayer and love for the world. This is the active love of God, seen also in our service of his people.
As I eat bread this day, I might remind myself of the two breads
– bread of earth for the body and bread of heaven for the soul.
Lord, thank you for our daily bread.
Donal Neary SJ