The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord, which we know also as Corpus Christi, gives us an opportunity to revisit the events of Holy Thursday. That day was full of material to ponder, and, now that Lent and Easter are complete, this feast provides an opportunity for deeper reflection on the mystery of the Eucharist instituted by Christ on the night before he died.
Jesus acknowledges the need of the crowd and shows compassion for them. He ‘makes them welcome’, speaks to them about the Kingdom of God, and heals the sick. This attitude of Jesus contrasts with that of the Twelve, who are insistent that the crowds be sent away. Jesus’ reply to this is: ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ The Christian, like Jesus, must recognise the needs, both material and spiritual, of those who are searching for the Kingdom.
The narrative of the miracle itself, especially in the detail of the actions of Jesus in verse 16, clearly prepares for the Last Supper. The miracle of the loaves, then, does not only look back to God’s past provision for the people, such as the provision of manna in the desert, but also points to the Eucharist and to the self-giving of Christ on the cross.
St Paul reminds us explicitly of what Jesus did ‘on the night that he was betrayed’. He gives us not an earthly bread, but the bread which is the gift of himself that we might live.
How can we conform our lives to the self-giving of Christ in the Eucharist?
What might Jesus’ words to ‘give them something to eat yourselves’ suggest to us today?
Pray for true reverence for the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
Pray for a deeper understanding that it is the Eucharist which makes the Church.