The refrain from today’s Responsorial Psalm expresses well the reason for our gathering for the eucharist: to be fed by the Lord at the table of his Word and the table of the Holy Eucharist, his Body and Blood. The crowds who followed Jesus into the desert in today’s gospel were hungering for his teaching. In his compassion he also healed their physical ills. Finally he offers them nourishment of bread and fish. As we see in our First Reading, the abundance of God’s love for his people is symbolized in a banquet of rich fare. The loaves of bread and a few fish in the gospel hardly constitute a banquet, but the abundance of feeding a huge crowd with more left over than they started with is a symbol of the superabundance of God’s love, of divine grace. This is what keeps us coming back again and again to the eucharistic celebration: the desire for his teaching and the desire to be united with him in holy communion.
When the Lord feeds the crowd, he entrusts the food to his disciples for distribution. This signifies that it is through the ministry of the Church that God’s people are fed. This is true both for the proclamation of the word and for the celebration of the sacraments. The principal occasion for celebrating the goodness and munificence of God is the Sunday Mass.
Many Catholics today need to recapture their appreciation for the centrality of Sunday Mass in their lives. Sunday is the day of the Lord’s resurrection, which has been known as “the Lord’s Day” since New Testament times. (Cf. Revelation 1:10) The celebration of the Mass is the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection. In his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis in response to the 2005 World Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, Pope Benedict XVI stated:
The life of faith is endangered when we lose the desire to share in the celebration of the Eucharist and its commemoration of the paschal victory. Participating in the Sunday liturgical assembly with all our brothers and sisters, with whom we form one body in Jesus Christ, is demanded by our Christian conscience and at the same time it forms that conscience. (n. 73)
Furthermore he stated:
The eucharistic mystery helps us to understand the profound meaning of the communio sanctorum [communion of the holy]. Communion always and inseparably has both a vertical and a horizontal sense: it is communion with God and communion with our brothers and sisters. Both dimensions mysteriously converge in the gift of the Eucharist. (n. 76)
This year covid-19 restrictions necessitated forbidding public Masses for a time. Now it is still recommended that vulnerable people not attend Mass in person. This experience has helped some people come to appreciate what they have been missing or may have taken for granted. Perhaps this is the silver lining in a very dark cloud.
My annual July vacation at the home farm has come to an end. Thanks to Father Hokamp for taking good care of our parishes in my absence. For the most part the weather was great—especially this last week—and I had a very relaxing time. Unfortunately I came up empty in my quest for a field of oats that was allowed to ripen, so no threshing this year.
Pray the rosary again this week for our country, for people affected by the corona virus and all who care for them, and for all affected by anger and violence. Pray for good weather for the growing season and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.