Jesus made the crowds welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing.
It was late in the afternoon when the twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the people away, and they can go to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food; for we are in a lonely place here.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go ourselves and buy food for all these people.’ For there were about five thousand men. But he said to his disciples, ‘Get them to sit down in parties of about fifty.’ They did so and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then he broke them and handed them to the disciples to distribute among the crowd.
They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets. (Luke 9:11-17)
Today’s feast celebrates the enduring sign of Christ’s presence with us in the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist.
It also celebrates Christ’s presence with us in the community of the Church. The Eucharist is our sacrament of communion, not only with Christ and God, but also with all those called into the Christian community. Our communion binds us to one another in a sacred union of mind and heart with Jesus.
The word ‘communion’ means to share in common. In Holy Communion what we share in common with God and each other is Jesus Christ present in the Bread and the Wine. Another meaning of ‘communion’ is to be of one mind and heart. It is the Holy Spirit who keeps us in communion of mind and heart with God, with Christ and with each other.
We are very used to thinking about the Real Presence of Jesus being in the Blessed Sacrament. But the real presence of Christ is also in the community when it gathers in his name to feast on the Word of Scripture, to recall what Jesus said and did at the Last Supper (not only the words over bread and wine, but also the washing of the feet), when it shares the food of the Eucharist together, when it goes out and continues to break and pour out that food in acts of loving kindness, in soothing and nourishing words which brings others to life.
The Eucharist is not an object to be looked at, but an action to be done so that the living presence of Jesus continues to touch and heal.
Maybe we need to think more deeply about the real presence of Jesus being in real, living human beings. Bread and Wine have no eyes to gaze with love, no face with which to smile, no mouth to speak soothing words, no arms to hold the grieving and the sick, or to lend a hand, no ears to hear the pain. But we do.
So we are called to become the Eucharist that feeds those around us with the nourishment of breadth of heart and vision, respect, love, compassion, hope and forgiveness.
May we become what we receive. (St Augustine)
Read our Celebrating At Home prayers and readings for this Sunday: