Have you ever noticed how much of the story around Jesus’ public ministry involves a meal and food?  From his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana to the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves – so significant that it is found in all four Gospels – to the story of the woman who asked Jesus to heal her child as he reclined at table, to the account of the woman who wept and bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears as he dined with a Pharisee, to the all-important Last Supper, to his first appearance after he rose from the dead and asked the astonished disciples for a piece of fish to eat, to his final breakfast with his apostles at the shore of the Sea of Galilee – the examples of Jesus performing miracles in the context of a meal are seemingly endless.  His parables are also filled with mention of meals or food:  the parable of the sower, the parable of the wheat and the weeds, the parable of the yeast, the parable of wine and wineskins, the parable of the wedding feast – again, we see that Jesus often uses meals or food to make a point in his parables.

And, the reason for this is obvious.  God sent his son to show his love and care for us, and there is no clearer way to show his love and care than to nourish us.  And, as he provided physical nourishment, he also used these occasions to speak of the spiritual nourishment he was about to provide: his own body and blood, which he offered his disciples – and us – at the Last Supper.

We all know how important it is to keep our bodies healthy and we spend a great deal of our resources to make sure we eat well.  The better we take care of our diet, the longer we will live and enjoy God’s blessings here on earth.

It is even more important, however, to keep spiritually healthy, to nourish our spiritual life so that we can experience God’s peace here on earth and prepare ourselves for everlasting peace in God’s heavenly banquet.  That’s why the central act of worship we perform is around the Table of the Lord which is, after all, nothing more than a sharing a meal.   But, it is not just any meal.  It is one where we receive the real life-giving Body and Blood of Christ.  Jesus has offered himself to us to truly nourish us spiritually and to make us one with him.  After all, we become what we eat.  As we gather around our Lord’s Table today, we join with Catholics around the country in the inauguration of a three-year National Eucharistic Revival that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has called to renew us by enkindling a living relationship with our Lord, Jesus, in the Holy Eucharist.   

As we receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, we know that we become the Body of Christ – that is, Christ’s living presence – here in our community.  Strengthened by the Eucharist, we do what Jesus told his disciples to do in today’s Gospel when he told them to “give them some food yourselves.”  Through our participation in Food for Friends, where we provide meals for hungry people in our neighborhood and throughout the Archdiocese, or Mercy Hospice, through which we feed single mothers and their children, or by filling Manna Bags, through which we help to fill the food cupboard of our sister parish, St. Martin de Porres, for the summer, or through Adopt-a-Family, when we provide boxes full of food for families in our parish and our sister parish for Christmas,  as well as our many special collections, through which countless people are fed throughout our Archdiocese and around the world – in all these ways, we “give them some food” ourselves.  And, as we encourage and inspire each other spiritually at Bible Study, Evangelization, Knights of Columbus, PREP and Walking with Purpose, we offer spiritual nourishment that strengthens us as individuals and as a community of faith.  St. Teresa of Avila possibly said it best with these words: “Christ has no body now but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. You are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion looks out on the world.”

We have just been nourished by the Word of God.  In a few moments, we will share in the Body of Christ.  Having eaten our fill, let us – the Body of Christ – go and “be bread” for our fellow parishioners and for the world.