event described in today's Gospel is intended by our Lord to make
belief in His later revelations a little bit easier. He
certainly knew that if He announced His Sacramental system to the
crowds without any preparation, few (if any) would have been able to
believe Him. He knew from the very beginning that at the Last
Supper he would say the words of Consecration, and bread and wine
would become His true Body and Blood—Humanity and Divinity. He
knew that this action, which seemed symbolic would actually be united
to the events of the following day, as He surrendered His Body and
poured out His Blood on the Cross. He knew that each time the
actions of this Supper were repeated by His apostles and their
descendents, the one Sacrifice of the Cross would be renewed in that
time and place. He knew that in the future, His Body and Blood
would be truly present in each consecrated piece of Bread; in each
consecrated drop of Wine—in a hundred different places, or a
thousand, or in a million.
He also knew that these concepts were difficult for the limited mind
of man to grasp. So He began with this demonstration of His
ability to go beyond the limitations of the physical universe. A
few loaves and fishes clearly could not feed five thousand people—no
way—double or triple the loaves; halve or quarter the crowd; it
didn't make any difference—it still couldn't be done. So
our Lord did it.
as He gives us His Body and Blood across distances of thousands of
years and thousands of miles—Just as He gives Himself
completely to us, while simultaneously giving Himself to thousands or
millions of others—In just that way, He gave the loaves and
fishes to all five thousand of the crowd. That way, later on,
when He asked them to believe in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar,
they would have something to remember, and to agree that if He could
do the one, He could do the other.
in fact, it is in this same sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel that
we read of our Lord telling the crowd that He was going to give them
His Body and Blood as their spiritual food. He didn't give them
the opportunity to forget. And they believed Him—Right?
not exactly right. Some of them did; probably most of them.
But man seems to have an infinite capacity to get things wrong,
and at least a few of them began to question Him: "How can this
man give is His flesh to eat; His blood to drink?" Even
though they had seen this miracle of the loaves and fishes—even
though some of them had seen Him cure the sick, and cast out demons,
and work other miracles—they still couldn't accept His
word—called Him a liar, in effect. And, they left Him.
it is worth noting that He didn't call them back. He didn't try
to recover the loss of these followers by diluting the truth He was
trying to convey to them. He didn't chase after them, telling
them that it was okay if they just wanted to believe in the Eucharist
as a symbol of His presence. He didn't try to regain their
confidence by telling them that they could think of the Mass as just
a friendly meal if they couldn't accept it as the renewal of the
Sacrifice of the Cross.
is the difference between our Lord and His followers, on the one
hand, and those who follow the devil and the world, on the other.
Those of the world will tell you what you want to hear, and
compromise their principles, just to gain your support. Those
who are of the Lord can only tell you the truth—even if it is
not what you want to hear; even if it makes you angry; even if it
drives you away.
the truth is nothing less than what is in the mind of God. To
be philosophical, the truth is the Word of God; the “Word made
flesh, to dwell amongst us”; the truth is Jesus Christ.
just for a moment now, let's return to the meal described in today's
Gospel. I say “return,” because our Lord provided
this meal at least as much for us as for those who were actually
there. Some of them didn't really need it, for they had seen
our Lord do all sorts of other wonderful things. They already
knew of His power.
us, it is important to see these demonstrations of our Lord's power,
and of His divinity. If faith is belief in what God has
revealed—and it is—we must have some assurance that Jesus
is God, and know what He has revealed.
Christ hosted this meal, right about this time of year, two thousand
years ago, so that we could know, and so that we could believe: …
that every time we attend Mass, we are standing with Him at the foot
of His cross, renewing the Sacrifice of our Redemption … that
every time we receive Holy Communion we are truly receiving Him in
His entirety—no matter how many others receive with us, around
Christ hosted this meal for us, so that we could know that His Word
is Truth, even when, sometimes, the truth is difficult—and
distinguish His Truth from the ego-flattering errors of the world.
are drawing close to Holy Week. I hope you will schedule your
time so that you can attend the Masses that week, as we re-live the
events our Lord's Passion and Death—as we re-live the Last
Supper, the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, and as we see its
connection to the Sacrifice of the Cross. Between now and then,
I hope you will take the opportunity to read this sixth chapter of
Saint John's Gospel for yourself in its entirety. That way you
will know for yourself when, on Holy Thursday, we celebrate the the
Last Supper—that our Lord was speaking the plain truth when He
gave the Apostles what appeared to be bread and wine, while speaking
the words: “This is My body.... This is my blood.”