Isaiah 55: 1-3
Romans 8:35; 37-39
Matthew 14: 13-21
"Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds."
I remember as a kid in elementary school, the nuns often questioned us about various gospel stories. For example, if we were reviewing today’s gospel, the questions might go like this: "How many loaves & fishes? How many people were fed? How many full baskets were left over?"
As kids, I think most of us got the answers correct. However, in my own case, I certainly had no understanding of the symbolism or the meaning behind the story.
The feeding of the five thousand men plus women and children was indeed symbolic. It was a sign of something to come–the Holy Eucharist. ("He said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples.")
Jesus would give them ordinary bread today, but He would give us Eucharistic bread for tomorrow. The five loaves would keep them going today, but His Body and Blood would keep us going for a lifetime.
The Eucharist that Our Lord has given us was also a sign of something to come, another banquet which we’ll celebrate in heaven. We gather around His earthly table today and hopefully, we’ll gather around His heavenly table tomorrow.
Today’s gospel is not just about a miracle in the past. It’s also about the gift of the Eucharist in the present and the promise of a heavenly banquet in the future. In the Eucharist we taste the love of God. The proof that we have experienced that love will be our willingness to love and to be of service to others. We may be able to give only in small ways and in small amounts. However, from the example in today’s Gospel, we see that even a small amount can become a big amount when placed in the hands of the Lord.
Deacon Brian Clements is a former member of the staff at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California.