By Rev. Peter DeFazio
We are witnesses to life-giving love. The power of God working in our midst. Miracles surround us. People are gathering for the Mass. They are visiting the Shrine, lighting candles, offering prayers, experiencing God’s grace in their lives and embarking on a faith journey only God sees.
Couples are celebrating the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony before our beautiful altar.
Parents, grandparents and sponsors are filled with awe as they witness the Baptism of children in waters stirred by God’s holy touch.
Jesus masterfully involved the things that God has created in instituting the Sacraments. Water in Baptism. Love in Matrimony. Bread and Wine in the Eucharist.
Jesus did that last week, remember? He took 2 small fish and seven barley loaves and miraculously multiplied them in order to feed thousands of hungry men, women and children. On the hillside, overlooking the sea, Jesus asked the people to recline as he sent out his disciples to serve them a meal of bread and fish. This powerful gesture of compassion shown to the hungry, weary and downtrodden was restorative of their human dignity—daughter’s and sons of God. Like the Israelites who had been fed with Manna in the desert.
This Sunday’s Gospel picks up a few verses later, at Jesus’ famous sermon in the synagogue at Capernaum, where he describes the Eucharist that he would soon institute. A miraculous Sacrament— the true bread from heaven; the bread of God which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world—Jesus Himself.
Over the nearly 20 centuries since Jesus instituted the Eucharist on the night of the Last Supper, how many billions of people have been fed with the bread from Heaven? The Eucharist. Holy Communion. The true Bread that God gives us from Heaven.
Pope Francis has noted that Jesus shows us that the aim of life lies in self-giving, that the greatest thing is to serve.
Reflecting upon the Eucharist, Pope Francis spoke about the love of God becoming not only incarnate, but small enough to be welcomed and received; “broken and shared so as to nourish and give life; the strength of the love that is split apart so as to join us in unity.”
“This is the logic of the Eucharist,” the Holy Father said. “We receive Jesus who loves us and heals our fragilities so that we may love others and help them in their fragilities.”