Monday, August 1, 2016

Hand it on

On the surface today's gospel would appear to be one of many miracle stories. If we look closely we will see a story backed with theology and catechesis. By the time St. Matthew committed his gospel to writing he had already come to understand the deeper meaning in Jesus's action. The community of believers already had standardized what we would now call the celebration of the Euchrarist. And so when he recounts the story he uses a formula that they would all recognize. The four verbs associated with the Eucharist:

the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.

No Christian in the early Church would have denied that this miracle was the precursor to the institution of the Eucharist by Jesus, but there is also something more. 

There is a second "gave." Jesus gives to the disciples and it is they who in turn give to the crowd. This gospel is not only the precursor to the Eucharist but the precursor to Tradition, literally handing on. Jesus gives to the disciples who then give to the crowd and they are filled.  Presumably those who are filled will in turn give to others. Two millennia later, we are the recipients not of fish and bread but of the Bread of Life and the Word of God. 

Now we are the disciples having received we now have the obligation to give. Those of us who are priests do this above all in the celebration of Mass where we hand on the Word of God and the Bread of Life.  But all disciples are called to participate in the act of handing on, this act of feeding, of nourishing. Hopefully we do this every day. 

Today let us look for those opportunities through our actions to nourish others, to share with them the love of Christ.