Because the Word of God is a living Word, there are always a variety of ways to enter into the text. Once inside the mystery of the word, open-minded believers are challenged to listen, to ponder, and to allow the transformative power of God’s good and graced Word to lead them toward conversion and growth. Because the Word of God lives, it also has a portable quality. We are to carry with us what we have come to know to be true, to be just, and to be holy into the rest of our lives. As we travel together, the Word continually challenges our commitment, our faith, and our generosity.
Today, the challenge of the word could be summed up quite succinctly in the directive of Jesus in the Gospel of Saint Luke: “Give them some food yourselves.” To put it another way, those who have been fed with God’s gracious gifts are thereby responsible for tending the needs and hungers of others.
When God called the Israelites out of Egypt, God saw to their needs and fed them with manna, quail, and water from the rock. Fed by God, the Israelites were then to feed and care for the needy among them. This created a pattern of care and hospitality upon which their very survival depended.
When Jesus called disciples to share in His ministry, He began by feeding them. He nourished their minds and spirits with the food of His teaching … He fed their hopes with His assurance of God’s love and salvation. Jesus fed their hunger to belong not only by acting as their faithful friend but as their loving brother. Jesus also understood their longing for security, and in order to fill that hunger, He fed them with the gift of His abiding presence.
As the Gospels repeatedly attest, Jesus did not confine Himself … or the nourishment He had to offer … to just His disciples. Aware that hunger is a universal experience, He welcomed all who came to Him. In Him, those who hungered for healing were satisfied. Those who thirsted for kindness and acceptance found their fill. Jesus, whose loving hand and heart reached out to everyone, never disappointed sinners seeking forgiveness and a new beginning.
Jesus also attended to the physical hungers of those who came to Him. His feeding of the crowds with a few loaves and a couple of fish would become a sign of His willingness to satisfy every human hunger. This He did with the gift of Himself, broken and bleeding on the cross. He continues to do that with the gift of Himself in bread and wine at every Eucharistic gathering … at every Mass. As we celebrate this great gift today, we acknowledge how privileged we are to be nourished regularly at the table of the Lord. Fine food, and plenty of it, is always available. All we need to do is come, eat, and be satisfied by the Bread of the Word and the Bread of the Body of Christ.
Please consider that this privilege is not without its responsibilities. You and I are fed by the Body of Christ so that we can go forth and feed the other members of the Body of Christ who might not be as fortunate. We are to nourish others according to their need. Our belonging to the Body of Christ compels us to care. As we have been fed so generously at the table of Christ, we are also made responsible for those less fortunate. “Give them some food yourselves,” said Jesus. How can we ignore Him and still show up to eat your fill next Sunday?
May Saint Michael the Archangel defend, guide, protect, and intercede for us always!