April 29, 2022

Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena

Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”

The gospel passage today begins the long eucharistic discourse in John’s Gospel. Here, Jesus feeds five thousand with five loaves and two fish — indeed an astounding miracle (or sign, as John calls it). It is significant that the five other accounts of Jesus’ feeding so many with so little are all careful to mention how much was leftover: twelve baskets full for the twelve disciples, and seven for the seven chosen to minister to the Hellenistic Christians.

If we can borrow from another gospel, Mark drives the lesson home explicitly as they return from the other side of the Lake of Gennesaret (Mark 8:19-21). Jesus questions his followers about these feeding miracles. Significantly, he does not ask about how little he needs to feed so many. He asks how much was leftover in each instance: a basketful for each Christian leader. This raises the critical question of what they did with all that food.

This very eucharistic miracle still has application today. When we share at Christ’s table, we are filled with the blessings of salvation God is only too eager to give us. We have more than enough to share. Jesus could well ask us, “What are you going to do with all you have leftover?” It remains true that if God’s people are hungry today, it is because we are not feeding them. God’s blessings are never for us to hoard for ourselves, but so that we can feed those who hunger and thirst for God’s blessings.

Let Us Pray:

O, gracious Lord, I have lost count of how many times I have celebrated the Eucharist. Grant that I may so truly live the Eucharist that I become truly one body, one spirit in you that I may also embody your goodness to all your people.


Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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About Paul J. Bernier, SSS

Blessed Sacrament Father Paul J. Bernier served for many years as the editor of Emmanuel. He is a popular writer, preacher, and director of retreats. Among his many published works is Ministry in the Church: A Historical and Pastoral Approach, Second Edition, published by Orbis Books in 2015. His most recent book is A Eucharistic Spirituality: Inspired by Saint Peter Julian Eymard – Apostle of the Eucharist, which he co-authored with Jim Brown.