Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, sometimes referred to as Corpus Christi. As a cradle Catholic and a bit of a control freak, however, I sometimes manage to take the Lord’s Real Presence for granted and fall into the trap of depending more on myself than on Jesus. Something clicked for me at Mass today. Listening to the gospel (Luke 9:11-17) reminded me of something I should have never forgotten.
The Feeding Of The Five Thousand
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.”
It was getting late and the apostles were concerned that the massive crowd would need food and lodging. As a result, they urged Jesus to wrap up his preaching and healing so the people would have time to take care of their needs. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?
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.
Gotta love the Lord’s answer. “You feed them”, he said! Their response was understandable. How could five loaves and two fish possibly be enough the feed all those people?
Then he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty.” They did so and made them all sit down.
Even though his suggestion didn’t “make sense”, the apostles followed his instructions to the letter. It turned out to be a good move.
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.
Here’s What You Should Do, Lord
Here’s something you should know. The feeding of the five thousand occurs right after the apostles returned from a solo mission (Luke 9:1-6) in which they preached the gospel and healed many people. They should have been aware of the miracles that can take place though the supernatural power of Jesus Christ, but somehow they weren’t. As a result, they told Jesus to stop preaching and healing so that the people could find food and lodging. Instead of just getting rid of the people, why didn’t they ask him to do something about the situation?
You’re Missing Something, Boys
Wanting to teach his followers a lesson, Jesus told them to give the people something to eat. The apostles quickly realized that five loaves and two fish wasn’t enough to feed 5,000 men (plus women and children) and contemplated going out and buying food for the people. Seeing that they still didn’t get it, Jesus told them to have the people sit down in groups of fifty. Fortunately, they obeyed him and something really cool happened. Jesus miraculously multiplied the five loaves and two fish so that there was more than enough for everyone. Then, and I love this part, he gave the food to the apostles so they could feed the crowd.
The Moral Of The Story
Using their own resources, the apostles couldn’t possibly remedy this situation. That’s why it sounded so crazy when Jesus told them to feed the people. But look at what happened. They did end up feeding the people, but only after Jesus multiplied what little they had.
On my own, there is no way I can love my enemies or carry my cross daily. I can’t effectively blog or speak about the gospel. I’m just too weak and so are you. Jesus understands this and offers his body and blood in the Eucharist to strengthen and sustain us. Apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5), but with him we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). If you need a reminder, just remember the feeding of the five thousand!