In our gospel reading today, we encounter Jesus feeding the multitudes. This is the second occasion where Jesus feeds the hungry crowds in the Gospel of Mark (see Mark 6:30-44, Mark 8:1-10). Those of us who have a Eucharistic spirituality will likely be drawn to this reading’s eucharistic aspects. After all, Jesus “takes” the loaves of bread, “gives thanks” and “breaks” the bread. He then “gives” the bread to be shared with all present. This is the model we see again at the last supper and remembered at every celebration of the Eucharist. However, there’s much more to be learned from this passage about Eucharist.
In their excellent study of the Gospel of Mark in the Sacra Pagina series, scripture scholars John Donahue, SJ, and Daniel Harrington, SJ, draw attention to the physical hunger of the people and Jesus’ compassion (Sacra Pagina Series Volume 2: The Gospel of Mark. John R. Donahue, SJ and Daniel Harrington, SJ. Ed. Daniel Harrington, SJ. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 2002 pages 243-247). They note how Jesus is attentive to the crowd, observing their hunger. This is a primary focus of the story. He is “moved with pity for the crowd,” as the passage says. And then he responds by feeding them. In fact, he doesn’t just give them enough to get by. Jesus doesn’t give a meager portion of bread and fish to the members of the crowd. Instead, as the author tells us, “They ate and were satisfied.” It’s worthwhile to note that there were even leftovers!
Often when we think of the Eucharist, we think of our spiritual hungers. But as the Rule of Life of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament emphasizes, we are encouraged to respond to all of the “hungers of the human family” (Rule of Life, 3). In today’s reading, Jesus draws particular attention to actual physical hunger. By using the same eucharistic language of “take,” “give thanks,” “break,” and “give,” the connection becomes all the clearer. To live eucharistic lives, we are to work toward alleviating physical hunger in our world. Jesus doesn’t work from a model of “food scarcity,” instead, he provides what is needed, and all are “satisfied.” It’s an inspiring example.
Let Us Pray:
Generous God, we thank you for the abundant fruits of creation. We ask you to send your Holy Spirit to help us share in justice and charity the food that sustains life. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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