Ordinary Time - Week 18a

This miracle is a figure of the Eucharist

(From Conversation with God, Fernandez Carvajal)

In the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, Christ uses the same words and behaviour as He later employs for the institution of the Eucharist. This miracle is not only a demonstration of divine mercy; it is also a prefiguring of the Holy Eucharist, which the Lord explains in the synagogue of Capharnaum. This is the interpretation given by many Fathers of the Church. The liturgy of the Mass recalls the gesture of the Lord when He lifted his eyes up to heaven. The words of the Roman Canon are as follows: "and looking up to heaven, to you, his almighty Father." We remember that miracle as we prepare for an even greater miracle, that being the changing of bread into his Body, which is to be offered as spiritual food for all mankind.

The miracle by the lakeside showed to men the power and love of Jesus. That power and love are what allow us to find the Body of Christ under the sacramental species. Down through the centuries it is the Eucharist that can feed the multitude of the faithful. As Saint Thomas put it in the sequence which he composed for the Mass of 'Corpus Christi', "Whether one receives or a thousand do, each receives the same as the other, He cannot be exhausted." This is how the miracle acquires its significance, without losing any of its reality, it is wondrous in itself but it ends up being even more wonderful than expected It evokes the image of the Good Shepherd who feeds his sheep. It can be seen as a foreshadowing of the new order. Enormous multitudes will come to join in the eucharistic feast, where they will be fed in a miraculous way with an incredibly superior food.

The crowds that seek out our Lord are evidence of the strong impression his Person makes on people. Many go so far as to follow Jesus into the desert itself, quite a way from the main roads and towns. They travel without provisions. They don't want to lose any time in their haste to get a glimpse of the Lord. This is a good example for us whenever we face some difficulty in receiving Communion or visiting the Blessed Sacrament. To have an encounter with the Master is worth any sacrifice.

Saint John reports that the multitude grew very excited as a result of the miracle. If all those people became so enthusiastic and were ready to acclaim you over a piece of bread, even granting that the multiplication of loaves was a very great miracle, shouldn't we be doing much more for all the many gifts you have grunted us, and especially for giving us your very self unreservedly in the Eucharist?