Melchizedek, king of Salem, blessed Abram.
You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
They all ate and were satisfied.
Gospel LK 9:11B-17
Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God,
and he healed those who needed to be cured.
As the day was drawing to a close,
the Twelve approached him and said,
“Dismiss the crowd
so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms
and find lodging and provisions;
for we are in a deserted place here.”
He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.”
They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have,
unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.”
Now the men there numbered about five thousand.
Then he said to his disciples,
“Have them sit down in groups of about fifty.”
They did so and made them all sit down.
Then taking the five loaves and the two fish,
and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing over them, broke them,
and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.
They all ate and were satisfied.
And when the leftover fragments were picked up,
they filled twelve wicker baskets.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Today, the second Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate a second solemnity, which marks our return to Ordinary Time. Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. At one time, this day was called Corpus Christi, Latin for “the Body of Christ.” In the most recent revision of the liturgy, the name for this day is expanded to be a more complete reflection of our Eucharistic theology.
The feeding of the 5,000 is the only one of Jesus’ miracles to appear in all four Gospels. Luke places it between Herod’s question, “Who is this about whom I hear such things?” and Peter’s response to Jesus’ question about who he thought Jesus was: “You are the Messiah of God.” In Luke the feeding is not the result of Jesus’ compassion for the crowd but is instigated by the disciples. They wanted Jesus to send the crowd away to town. Instead Jesus tells the disciples to give them some food on their own.
The passage is meant to remind us of two feedings in the Old Testament: the feeding of the Israelites in the desert and Elisha’s feeding of 100 people with 20 loaves in 2 Kings 4:42-44. It is also connected to the institution of the Eucharist. As in the Last Supper accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and in Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24, Jesus takes bread, looks up to heaven, blesses the bread, breaks it, and then gives it to the disciples. In using this exact language, Luke is reminding his readers that in this miracle Jesus is doing more than feeding hungry people as God did for the Israelites and the prophet Elisha did as well. The bread he gives is his body, which he will continue to give as often as the community breaks bread in remembrance of him in the Eucharist.
In our age of fast food and eating on the go, families often find that they are not eating meals together at a dinner table. As a family, look back over the past week and recall how many meals were eaten together and how many meals were eaten alone or on the run.
In the Bible, meals are seen as much more than a means to satisfy a physical need. The Hebrew people viewed eating a meal as a way of expressing and strengthening their relationship to one another under God’s covenant. It is no coincidence that meals are often the setting of Jesus’ teaching and miracles in the Gospels. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear the story of Jesus feeding the crowd of 5,000 people.
Read this Sunday’s Gospel, Luke 9:11b-17. Talk about the kinds of hungers that people have in addition to physical hunger. Describe the hungers that a family nourishes (love, compassion, forgiveness, laughter, and so on). Together give thanks for the food that Jesus gives us that we celebrate on this Sunday’s feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus. Make a commitment to share in this Eucharistic meal together as a family.
Sources: Loyola Press; Sunday Readings