Sunday is the “Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.”
Sunday’s solemnity is also known as the “Solemnity of Corpus Christi,” meaning “Body of Christ” in Latin. This feast originated in France in the mid 1200’s, and was transferred to the whole Church by Pope Urban IV in the year 1264. This feast is always celebrated on the Thursday following the Trinity Sunday (or in the USA, on the Sunday following.)
We are called to ponder on the Body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and on the Body of Christ in the Church. The Feast of Corpus Christi is commonly used as an opportunity for public Eucharistic processions, serving as a sign of faith and adoration.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
“By habitually thinking of the presence of God, we succeed in praying twenty-four hours a day” ~ St. Paul of the Cross†
This reflection is about feeding the masses and it representing the Institution of the Holy Eucharist.
Jesus received them and spoke to them 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. (NAB Luke 9:11b-17)
This miracle of feeding the 5000 is the only one of Jesus’ miracles that appears in all four of the Gospels. It should also remind us of the two feedings found in the Old Testament: the feeding of the Israelites in the desert; and Elisha’s feeding of 100 people with 20 loaves (2 Kings 4:42-44).
Jesus has been out in the open for a while, with His ministry on earth well known in His homeland. He had become a magnet for people wanting to see, hear and touch Him. Many of the individuals present this day were there because they were moved by Jesus’ sincerity, hope, love, and faith. Some were there just out of curiosity; and I am sure some were spying on Him, looking for any “evidence” that could be used against Him to take back to Temple and/or Civic leaders.
Obviously, His enemies were of no concern to Jesus, as He had to “be about His Father’s work (Luke 2:49).” Jesus healed and cured an unknown amount of believers by, and during, the time of this event. At minimum, Jesus is already known throughout the region as a prophet, a healer, a teacher; and by a large and growing group, as the “Messiah.”
After a full day of teaching and preaching, Jesus knew the people were tired and hungry (Catholics now have a conniption with one hour masses; picture 10-12 hours). He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass in groups of 50. With 5000 men (plus the women and children present with the men that were not counted), there were 100 groups of people of various stages in life sitting all over the nearby countryside.
Taking five simple and small loaves of barley bread and two fish, Jesus looked up holding the food towards heaven, said a blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the Apostles. They, in turn gave them to the crowds.
The actions of Jesus put into practice that day, recalls the Institution of the Eucharist found in Luke 22:19, when on Holy Thursday, “he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.’”
Afterwards, 12 baskets of food were collected. I wonder if the extra food was thrown away or given to the needy. Was there a concept of “reduce, reuse, and recycle” back then?
So, what does this all mean? There is a large amount of symbolism in this gospel reading. Some of this symbolism is conceptual, historical, social, and even numerological.
Can you picture keeping a crowd of 5000 men, plus women and children interested in what you are saying for a “full day?” Jesus taught to, healed, and cured the massive crowd in such a way as to keep everyone enthralled.
These crowds were people from all walks of life: prostitutes, farmers, shepherds, merchants, Temple officials, and possibly even Roman soldiers. This was unheard of at this time and era. The different classes of people did not mingle with other classes of people. Shepherds would never socialize with merchants, and no one would be seen in public with a prostitute. Matter of fact, it was illegal for different social classes to mingle in a lot of cases. To have these various individuals in such a large number in one place, was such a significant break in societal protocols that it could place Jesus and His disciples in danger of being called renegades to the Roman Empire or the Jewish Temple leadership.
People sat in groups of “50,”comprising “100” groups. In Biblical Numerology (Biblical numerology is the study of numbers in the Bible), fifty is a number possibly meaning “jubilee or deliverance.” One Hundred is a multiple of 10 (x10). Ten represents “perfection of a divine order” in biblical numerology. Put together, these people, to me, are involved in a jubilee or celebration of biblical proportions, resulting in an event that was perfect in divinity!
Barley bread was the most common type of bread made. It was considered the “ordinary” bread used throughout the year. Five is a number that could represent divine grace. The number two, to the Christians of the first century, was a symbol of the second person of the Trinity, the Incarnation of God the Son in the perfection of His humanity and divinity: Jesus Christ. Presently, “two” also indicates “duality.”
So, “5” loaves of barley bread, and “2” fish could be an indication that through Jesus, the “ordinary,” gains divine grace and can achieve the exceptional: life in eternal happiness, praising and glorifying God in heaven.
“Jesus broke the bread.” What kind of symbolism is involved here? Perhaps the breaking of the bread represents the end (or breaking) of the “old covenant, and institution of a “new” covenant through Jesus. Legal contracts during this time in history, and in this area of the world, always involved meals or banquets. The “breaking of the bread” finalized the agreement reached by the two people.
“… gave them[the food] to the disciples to set before the crowd” may be reflective of Jesus’ intention of passing on His duties, on earth, to His disciples. He freely gave of Himself, and freely passed on His ministry to others so that it could spread and never be without end. As Jesus passed on the bread (of this new covenant) into the hands of His disciples, His disciples were to continue passing on “Jesus” till He returns again.
The last sentence of this gospel reading is significant to me. Five loaves of bread, and two fish, through the grace of God, was able to feed 5000+ people to the point of being satiated; and then “they filled twelve wicker baskets” with the leftovers. From such a small gift to Jesus, a much greater return was made possible. Twelve, in biblical numerology indicates perfection of government; and is the number of the Church.
For giving a small amount to the Church and God, we will be rewarded with huge amounts of graces. Matthew 16:27 states, “For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct;” and in Luke 6:23 it is written, “… Behold, your reward will be great in heaven …; and in Luke 6:25, “… love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
In receiving communion, one has Christ within them, united by faith and charity, and thus transforming the receivers of the Eucharist into Christ. Jesus’ divine and pure life intertwines and intermingles with our impure and sinful human lives through the Eucharist. Our impurities cannot match the perfection of Jesus: He has the capabilities to overpower all our impurities, making us clean, and thus converting us into Christ. The consecrated Eucharist is capable of making any of us divine, since it fills us with His divinity.
There is a great, easy to read book titled, “The Seven Secrets of the Eucharist” written by Vinny Flynn. It is available at www.mercysong.com. I HIGHLY recommend this book for all that receive communion, and especially for those that have stopped going to mass. In it, you will discover “amazing” truths you perhaps never knew about the Eucharist. This book is full of surprises, and reveals hidden treasures which will DEFINITELY change your life, bringing you closer to Jesus through Holy Communion.
The reason I bring this book up in this reflection, is because of what it did for me. It placed a new priority in my heart in regards to the Eucharist. I have a much deeper reverence and need for it now. Communion has such a rich meaning; much more than standing in a line during mass, and “slapping” that host onto my tongue. The one big thing I now know is that at every Eucharistic Celebration we are not receiving only Jesus! At every Eucharist, the entire celestial court and all of heaven are also present to worship and praise our Lord. When we receive the Eucharist, we are experiencing a little bit of heaven on earth. My late mother and father, and every deceased person that I have loved, are potentially there with me as I receive Jesus. How awesome is that!!
The Catholic Bible, and Mr. Flynn’s book, has so many hidden “prizes”! Please try reading and meditating on a small part of Scripture each and every day.
“Come, Lord, in the fullness of your risen presence, and make yourself known to your people again through the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup. Amen.” – Lord Robert Runcie
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: Sts. Marian and James (d. 259)
Often, it’s hard to find much detail from the lives of saints of the early Church. What we know about the third-century martyrs we honor today is likewise minimal. But we do know that they lived and died for the faith. Almost 2,000 years later, that is enough reason to honor them.
Born in North Africa, Marian was a lector or reader; James was a deacon. For their devotion to the faith they suffered during the persecution of Valerian.
Prior to their persecution Marian and James were visited by two bishops who encouraged them in the faith not long before they themselves were martyred. A short time later, Marian and James were arrested and interrogated. The two readily confessed their faith and, for that, were tortured. While in prison they are said to have experienced visions, including one of the two bishops who had visited them earlier.
On the last day of their lives, Marian and James joined other Christians facing martyrdom. They were blindfolded and then put to death. Their bodies were thrown into the water. The year was 259.
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From: http://www.americancatholic.org website
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #6:
They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.
Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.