Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

You are what you eat

Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and began handing them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them among the crowd. - Mark 8:6

This passage of scripture recounts the second miracle of the loaves found in St. Mark's gospel. In this account, Jesus is moved to pity for the crowd (four thousand people in this account) which had been following him for three days because they had nothing to eat. He did not want to send them away hungry, so he asked the disciples what provisions they had with them which turned out to be seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Jesus took the bread and fish, said a blessing, and had them distributed. All were satisfied.

The miracles of the loaves have a deep eucharistic significance. Those who are attentive at Mass will see the parallels which are steeped in the ritual which plays out every Sunday in our churches. We who follow Jesus gather at a place which is typically deserted of people except for set times. We listen to the Lord as he speaks to us through the words of the scriptures. The words of scripture spoken by Christ through the lector, cantor, deacon or priest leave us longing for communion with him.

Jesus knows our hearts are hungry for the nourishment which only he can provide, so he asks what food do we have. And we bring up gifts of bread and wine which the priest takes and blesses and through the power of the Holy Spirit and Christ's words of institution ("Take this all of you and eat it. This is my body which will be given up for you." "Take this all of you and drink from it. This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins might be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.") the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of the Lord.

Jesus then gives his Body and Blood to his disciples (priests and deacons as well as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion) who then bring it to the waiting crowd who eat and are satisfied. The disciples then gather what is left over, enshrine what is left of the Lord's Body and Blood in the tabernacle so that it may be both adored and brought to the sick, and purify the remaining vessels in the same manner that the disciples collected the scraps of bread and fish which were left over after the crowd had been fed.

As Jesus sent the crowd on its way that day, he dismisses us to go into the world and proclaim his power and might which is manifested in the feeding of the many on a single loaf and a single cup which was transformed into his Body and Blood and therefore, has transformed us into his Body and Blood. After all, you are what you eat.

Our Lady of Lourdes, come to our aid. Through your intercession, may Christ our God have mercy on us and save us.


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