The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Year C
Gospel : Luke 9:11-17
vs.11 Jesus made the crowds welcome, and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing.
vs.12 It was late afternoon when the Twelve came to him and said,
“Send the people away, and they can go to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food; for we are in a lonely place here.”
vs.13 He replied,
“Give them something to eat yourselves.”
But they said,
“We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go ourselves and buy food for all these people.”
vs.14 For there were about five thousand men. But he said to his disciples,
“Get them to sit down in parties of about fifty.”
vs.15 They did so and made them all sit down.
vs.16 Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd.
vs.17 They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets.
We have four commentators available from whom you may wish to choose .
Michel DeVerteuil : A Trinidadian Holy Ghost Priest and director of the Centre of Biblical renewal .
Thomas O’Loughlin: He is on the theology faculty of Nottingham University
Sean Goan: Studied scripture in Rome, Jerusalem and Chicago and teaches at Blackrock
College and works with the Le Chéile Schools
Donal Neary SJ: Editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger
Michel de Verteuil
Lectio Divina The Year of Luke
General Textual comments
Corpus Christi is an occasion for us to celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist. It should also be an occasion when we enter into the symbolism of this great sacrament, letting it teach us deep lessons about life, our relationship with God and with one another. Meditation on the readings for the feast will help us to celebrate the feast in both ways.
St Luke’s account of the miraculous feeding is very helpful as it is both a teaching on the Eucharist and on Jesus’ way of relating with people.
The story is introduced in verse 11 by a brief summary of Jesus’ ministry: “talking about the kingdom” is a powerful expression referring to the goal of his life.
Feel free to enter into the story of the feeding at whatever stage touches you.
Verses 12 to 14a set the stage for the miracle. Note the contrasting responses of Jesus and the twelve.
Verses 14b to 16 describe the feeding. The gestures of Jesus are reminiscent of the Eucharist, but are highly significant in themselves.
Verse 17 is also symbolical both of the Eucharist and of life.
Lord, we thank you for the Holy Eucharist.
Every Sunday, all over the world, people sit down in their church communities.
The priest takes the bread and wine,
raises his eyes to heaven and says the blessing over them,
then he breaks the bread and distributes it among the crowd.
We all get as much nourishment as we want,
and when we are finished the remains of the bread is collected and reverently stored.
Lord, many in our country are being fed
with nourishment that is unworthy of their humanity.
We pray that those of us to whom you have given the priceless gift of education
may be like Jesus in our society, making the crowds welcome,
talking to them about the glorious kingdom you have prepared for us,
curing all those who need to be healed.
“The poor must recover their hope.” … Pope John Paul II in Haiti, 1982
Lord, we pray that in every country your Church may be the presence of Jesus,
curing the poor of the terrible disease of despair,
speaking to them about the kingdom you are establishing in the world.
“The world has enough for every man’s need, but not enough for every man’s greed.” . …Gandhi
Lord, often today we see pictures of hungry people,
– mothers with ghostly babies at their breasts,
– children with swollen bellies,
– long lines of people outside food stores.
Like the disciples of Jesus, we say,
“Why can’t they go to villages and farms round about them to find lodging and food?”
Now and then the thought comes to us
that we should give them something to eat ourselves,
but we quickly dismiss that as impractical.
We find all kinds of excuses:
– we are in a lonely place here;
– we have no more than five loaves and two fish;
– are we to go ourselves and buy food for all these people?
Lord, your solution is really quite simple:
sit people down in small communities;
take whatever five loaves and two fish you have;
raise your eyes to heaven and say the blessing over them;
break the bread and hand it around to be distributed among the crowd.
Not only would all eat as much as they want,
but when the remaining scraps are collected, we will fill many baskets.
Lord, it is an extraordinary thing:
if we complain about the little we have, we never have enough;
but if we take what we have, raise our eyes to heaven and say the blessing over it, we have as much as we want, and even twelve baskets of scraps left over.
“People come to us looking for the bread of compassion and we give them the stone of advice.” …A modern psychologist
Lord, so long as we look on people as objects of our attention,
saying to ourselves that when late afternoon comes
we will send them away to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food,
and that we don’t have to give them something to eat
from the five loaves and two fish we have,
we will never be true followers of Jesus.
Lord, have mercy.
Liturgical Resources for Year C (Luke)
Introduction to the Celebration
Since the very first days of the church — before St Paul had set out on his journeys or any of the gospels were written — our brothers and sisters have been gathering every week for this sacred meal. But when we routinely do anything, we often lose sight of just how wonderful it is.
So today we are reflecting on just how wonderful it is to be called by the Lord to gather in his presence, to be his guests at his table, and to eat and drink from his wonderful bounty. In this banquet we become one with Christ, and are transformed into being his Body, and his Blood flows in all our veins giving us the strength to be his witnesses in the world and the life that never ends.
From the beginning the Eucharist was understood within the pattern of Christ’s meals/feedings, so already when this story was incorporated by Luke into his text, it had Eucharistic significance: his meal is one of miraculous abundance for all.
1. The whole point of today is to cause us to reflect that we encounter the mystery of Christ in events which belong simultaneously to this world and to the world to come. As Jesus Christ is the sacrament between the mystery of God and our humanity, so he has left us the sacraments, above all this meal, as the means by which we encounter, here and now, the future banquet of heaven.
The Eucharist is the ‘mystical meal’ (the language of the eastern churches), and the sacrum convivium … pignus futurae gloriae (Aquinas). Thus sacraments are something that are best understood through experiencing them, rather than hearing lectures upon them. So rather than try to deepen some mental awareness about the Eucharist with a homily, enhance the actual quality of the celebration. Here is an action plan:
(Step A) If you live in an area where drinking from the cup is not standard (e.g. Ireland), then introduce it today.
(Step B) If you live where communion ‘under both species’ is normal (most English-speaking countries) then procure some of the very large breads that allow for a genuine fraction. The key to the symbolism of the Eucharistic meal is not bread as a generic substance, but a single loaf of bread. This has simultaneously the notion of scattered grains gathered into a unity – one loaf – and the notion of each person having a share (literally: participating) in that loaf which is Christ.
(Step C) If you are actually doing in the liturgy what we say we do (breaking the loaf, drinking the cup) then arrange for the congregation to stand around the table, become actual ‘circumstantes’, for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The normal arrangement is that of a sanctuary which is akin to the teacher’s part of the classroom or the stage in a theatre, and those in the audience / class area watch on and answer invitations to speak. Yet we are always talking about being ‘gathered around the Lord’s table’ – so give people the actual liturgical experience.
3. The experience of the liturgy should act as a pointer, through faith, from what happens here to another reality. When the liturgy is celebrated in a minimalist, token fashion it is its own undoing. Then what actually happens (you go into a pew, listen to words, see the altar up there, walk up to communion, taste a little round pre-cut wafer that does not seem like bread, and then move off) must first point to what should happen here (look at the liturgy’s formulae), before, it can point beyond this dimension to the mystery. When your liturgy demands this double pointing (we got away with it pre-1965 in Latin for the linguistic inaccessibility was a mystical screen, an iconostastis, which made just being there enough), it sends out a signal that it is just a ritual of words. And when the Eucharist appears to be just that, then people vote with the feet – and they are doing so!
3. Sean Goan
Let the reader understand
You might expect that on a feast to commemorate the Eucharist we would be reading a text describing the last supper. However, since the last days of Jesus life were vividly recalled during Holy Week, we are now invited to reflect upon the meaning of the events and that is why today we are considering the miracle of the loaves and fishes. This was a highly symbolic act on the part of Jesus because, not only does it echo the Old Testament miracle of the manna in the wilderness, it also indicates Jesus’ desire to nourish his followers as they journey with him on the road of faith. The Eucharist is precisely that, and every time we gather for it we recognise that we are pilgrims in need of the sustenance that only God can give.
When Jesus said ‘do this in memory of me’ it is clear that he was not only referring to his actions relating to the bread and wine. He was asking his followers to live out this symbol of his life giving love. This is made very clear in the fourth gospel where, instead of the Passover meal, John reports that Jesus knelt down and washed the feet of his disciples and afterwards told them that they must do the same.
The Eucharist as a sacrifice and meal involves us not simply in a prayerful ritual but also commits us to a way of relating to each other.
If we are truly devoted to the Lord’s presence in Holy Communion then we will also be truly devoted to his presence in the community, especially in those who are most in need.
4. Donal Neary S.J.
Sacrifice and gift
Many people have memories of the Corpus Christ procession when the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament was brought around the parish. All groups in the parish were represented. Children scattered petals before the host and houses were decorated. The meaning of the feast was to bring the Lord into the streets of his people and to appreciate the gift he gives us of himself in the Eucharist. This procession still takes part in many places.
On Holy Thursday we also celebrate the Eucharist, but in another way It is more of the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. We unite ourselves with his offering that brought him to death, and look forward to the resurrection when the risen Lord would be present in many ways among people, including in the form and shape of bread and wine.
On the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the emphasis is more on gift than on sacrifice.
This is what he wishes to leave us as a gift forever. It is the way he could give himself forever in a very close way, so that this is his gift of ‘food for the journey’
We need this gift. We need to know certainly that God is close with us in life, and the Eucharist at Mass gives us this certainty. We need to know that God is really present in our lives, and we know this in the real presence of the Eucharist.
Lord in this Eucharist today I welcome you into my life;
help me to live like you and love like you. Amen.