Mark 6:30-34 • St Paul Miki & Companions (Memorial)
Mark wants his readers to see in Jesus of Nazareth a power and grace comparable to the God of Israel who provided manna for his people when they were in exile in the desert (Exod. 16). When Jesus was filled with pity and compassion because the people who flocked to see him ‘were like sheep without a shepherd’ (v. 34) he was embodying the Good Shepherd of Ezekiel (Ezek. 34). Mark wants to remind his readers of God’s loving presence and action in the history of Israel. God has always had a plan of salvation, and this plan has been and is continuing to be worked out in human time and space.
God cares for his people in every way – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Having had compassion on the crowd and fed them with spiritual food, Jesus now had compassion on their physical bodies and gave them physical food. He took the loaves, raised his eyes to heaven, pronounced a blessing, broke the five small loaves and gave them to his disciples to distribute; then he did the same with the two small fish (v. 41). Five thousand people were fed: the people all ‘ate and were satisfied’ (v. 42). No one went away hungry that day. This miracle of the distribution of the loaves and fishes was a prelude to a greater miracle – the miracle of the Eucharist which we receive whenever we attend Mass. The Eucharist is the very source and summit of our faith, and in it and through it we are nourished and fed – our souls are satisfied.
The word ‘eucharist’ comes from the Greek eucharistein, meaning literally to give thanks, and recalls the Jewish blessing in which God’s work of creation, redemption and sanctification is praised. Our hearts sing with joy and praise when we consider the great gift we have received in the Eucharist – the Bread of Life, feeding our souls. The Eucharist is a remarkable and wonderful institution which we are so blessed and privileged to receive. Day after day all over the world the Eucharist feeds millions upon millions of people with God’s very life. We draw grace and strength from this food, which is good for this life and the life to come.
Lord, your heart is always filled with pity and compassion towards your people and you feed us every day with the Eucharist – the Bread of Heaven.
1 Kings 3:4-13 • Psalm 118(119):9-14