When I looked at the readings for this weekend, I felt something providential. I will answer the question ‘why?’ in a few minutes. We will be reflecting on the Gospel of John chapter 6 for the next couple of weeks. This chapter is called the bread of life discourse, and it talks about the one food we need, the Eucharist. Now let me say why I felt providential when I read this passage. July 29th is my ordination anniversary. Priesthood and the Eucharist are instituted at the Last supper. It is providential that we are going to reflect on the Mass for the next couple of weeks: the very life of Jesus, and God’s continual gift that we need: Eucharist. As I celebrate my ordination anniversary, I feel like God prepared for me a mini retreat for the next couple of weeks to meditate on the Eucharist, the core of Priestly life. I take this opportunity to thank everyone who encouraged and challenged me through your prayers, presence, and support to grow in my priesthood.
Food is a very important part of our lives. We hear or talk about food every day. If we switch on the TV, on one side we hear the talk about poverty and feeding the poor, and on the other hand, we see shows about how to eat well, what is the healthiest food, and how to watch your weight and so on. Recently I was talking to couple of priests, and they asked me, do you find genuine Indian food around which you grew up? I replied, I don’t say genuine Indian food, but when there is nothing around, whatever you find is good.
We are going to look at the theme: “I am the Bread of Life.” Jesus said, "whoever comes to me will never hunger." In the first reading from the Book of Kings, we see the Prophet Elisha setting 20 barley loaves before 100 people. His servant was not sure about this, but the Prophet Elisha asked servant to do his part, and God is going to take care of it. They all eat and there is some left over. The Gospel draws a picture of Jesus feeding 5000 people. Jesus asked Philip, "Where are we going to buy the bread for these people to eat?" If someone asks you this, what will be your response? You probably thought to ask, "Are you kidding!" Philip answered him, "Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little." Here Andrew comes into the scene. He said, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" Then he gave thanks, blessed it, and began breaking it into pieces to pass around to the people. When they had all had enough to eat, Jesus said, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." They gathered up twelve baskets full! A miracle take place. Like the Prophet Elisha, Jesus told his disciples do their part.
Jesus multiplied the loves and fish, not to just feed the hungry bellies, but to prepare his listeners for an even greater miracle: the giving of his own body and blood in the holy sacrifice of the Mass. The sharing of the broken bread, the Body and Blood, is a sign of a community that is expected to share and provide in abundance for the needs of its members. Five loves and two fish, a humble offering to Jesus, made a difference. We bring ourselves to the Eucharist as we are, Jesus blesses us with His Body and Blood, and sends us to break and share our life with one another. There, miracles take place. Our lives are not perfect, not sufficient, but when it is in hand, miracles take place. As we celebrate Pioneer Days, let us give ourselves and community into the hands of God, who can do miracles. Happy Pioneer Days!