February 15, 2020

My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.

We have skipped over the first feeding of a crowd of 5,000 men on the Jewish side of the lake to a second feeding of 4,000 people in the Decapolis. Jesus fed them as he did the 5,000, with the same eucharistic verbs: taking, blessing, breaking, distributing. And all were fed and satisfied. They had more left over than when they had started.

This miracle provides an answer to the question raised by the incident that preceded this one in the gospel, when Jesus healed the daughter of a Syro-Phoenician woman near Tyre and Sidon. Jesus’ response to her request appeared to reflect the prevalent attitudes of the Jews of his day: namely, that the blessings of the kingdom are primarily (if not solely!) for the children of Israel. Lord, she pleaded, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs. Her response to Jesus’ apparent refusal was more than enough to satisfy him.

This encounter, however, left many wondering: Must those outside the nation of Israel be satisfied with only the table scraps of the kingdom? Does Jesus see them only as dogs, worthy of nothing more than leftovers? Or does he want to give them more? Feeding 4,000 pagans on the other side of the lake made them realize that Jesus was not only providing table scraps to Gentiles, but the same blessings he offered to the Jews.

Jesus didn’t ask any of these people if they were without sin, worthy to eat at his table. I often wonder how Christ-like is our solicitude to invite only the pure to share in our Eucharists.

Is the Mass only for the worthy?

Let Us Pray:

O Lord, you have fed both Jew and Gentile in your ministry, please enlighten us as to how you want us to treat the foreigner who asks to share at our eucharistic table.


Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)


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.