“One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Mt 4:4
Today’s Gospel is the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 from a few loaves and fishes. This was barely enough food to feed Jesus and His apostles, let alone thousands of people. Jesus called for the bread and fish to be brought to Him. He then looked up to heaven, blessed the food, broke the bread, and gave it to His disciples to give to the crowd. Amazingly, the entire multitude was fed.
Aside from the Resurrection, this story is the only other miracle recorded in all four Gospels. The early Church understood this miraculous feeding as a symbol of the Eucharist, where the food that nourishes the body also nourishes our spiritual hunger and longings.
Two thousand plus years later, hunger is still part of our human condition. In the State of Michigan where I live, one in four children is food insecure. People of all ages search for communion in a polarized world, and we long for healing and meaning in our own and others’ suffering. From where can we find sustenance for our journeys, and healing transformation for ourselves and for society?
Pope Francis writes about the gifts of love and life to be found in the Eucharist: “Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours. In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living center of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life.” (Laudato Si’ #236)
Patty Gillis is a retired Pastoral Minister. She served on the Board of Directors at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center in Detroit. She is currently a member of the Laudato Si Vision Fulfillment Team and the Passionist Solidarity Network.