At First Holy Communion Masses, I sometimes ask the young people the following question: What does it feel like to be hungry? The responses have a wide range: “I feel tired.” “I get grouchy and keep wanting something to eat.” “My stomach makes noises.” “I don’t have much energy.”
These physical symptoms of hunger parallel the spiritual experience of being hungry. We have a road ahead of us and our life is a journey. We hunger and thirst for God. If we turn away from Him, our hunger increases. We feel tired, grouchy, without energy. We need food to sustain us – not simply our favorite meals, but the Bread of Life. Jesus calls us to Himself and wants to nourish us in the Eucharist.
The scripture readings this weekend reinforce that God wants to feed us and satisfy our longing, our hunger. In the Gospel of Matthew, we read about the multiplication of the loaves and fish. While this is not the narrative describing the institution of the Eucharist, it is a passage that has Eucharistic themes. The pattern of blessing, breaking, and distributing the loaves is a pattern that is replicated in the liturgy of the Eucharist:
looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds. (Mt. 14)
When the crowd was given bread at the multiplication of loaves, here is the result: “They all ate and were satisfied,” (Mt. 14) Like hungry children who have their favorite meal, God wants to satisfy our spiritual hunger. In the Eucharist, we can find our satisfaction, our food for the journey.
At the last supper, Jesus institutes the Eucharist. He gives himself for us and invites us to receive His Body and Blood. God created us and knows we are hungry. We were created to be nourished by God. He does not want us to go through life tired and listless, unable to fulfill our mission.
As you are aware, for a couple of months, we were not offering the public celebration of the Mass, which resulted in so many not being able to receive the Holy Eucharist. I heard from many of our faithful in Northwest Indiana who longed to receive our Eucharistic Lord.
I want to offer a word of thanks to our pastors and parish leaders who have worked hard to reopen our public celebration of the Mass, enabling once again the reception of the Eucharist. Our parishes have worked hard to follow safety and cleaning protocols so that we can return to Mass. If you have any questions about how your local parish is handling safety protocols, give them a call so that you know how to prepare and feel comfortable returning to Mass.
The Sunday celebration of the Mass and receiving the Eucharist is part of the normal practice of the faith. It’s where we are feed by Jesus, nourished by His word and strengthened by the Holy Eucharist. We want everyone to be safe – and we want to ensure that our faithful are able to experience today what the early followers of Jesus experienced: “They all ate and were satisfied” (Mt.14)
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat; (Is. 55)
Jesus, I Trust in You!
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
The Most Reverend Robert J. McClory
Diocese of Gary