My wife makes me dinner often. She gets home much earlier than I do and she takes a lot of care to put together a meal for us to share in the evening hours. She never complains about doing this and I always try to appreciate her work and not take her for granted.
But I have to admit, sometimes I do.
Much like the Israelites who grumbled against Moses and the crowd at Capernaum who followed Jesus after he had fed the multitude, I don't always have the right intentions. The crowd showed up and found Jesus because they had been fed by him and they figured that if they kept following Him that they would always have plenty of food. in a society where the majority of people were extremely poor--you could only imagine that people became quite desperate and when Jesus shows up and provides a feast their natural inclination is to stick close to the meal ticket.
And I do the same thing to my wife. I take her work for granted, assuming that her good food will always be there if I just stick close and show up hoping to find dinner on the table.
But what makes those meals great? I've taken to saying to my wife that her meals are great because they are made with just the right amount of love.
And that is the point that Jesus is making as well. Like the Eucharist that we eat each and every week it is that little bit that goes a long way. It is not the feast that Jesus provides that He expects us to long for--but it is the love that God gives to us, the gift of His own Body and Blood, the self-offering of God for all of creation that is what Jesus wants us to remember.
It is the meal that is made with just the right amount of love.
It is in that offering for us that we need to recall. It is that offering that we often forget. We don't always become what we receive for others. Much like I don't always show gratitude for my wife's efforts how much more do I fail to show gratitude for what God has provided.
I sin and yet, God offers me not only His unconditional forgiveness but then offers His own Body and Blood that I may turn from my sin and offer myself for the sake of the world.
If I can't even show my wife how thankful I am for her dinner, what chance do I have of keeping God in mind--of being thankful for an even greater gift, the greatest gift?
And that is why my friends, that we need the Eucharist. And God knows it. We need a physical, tangible, intimate reminder of how much Jesus loves us. Jesus was more mindful of our brokenness than we are. He knows that we really need Him, that too often we are going to forget Him. Like the disciples, those closest to him we all abandon Him time and time again. It's so easy to forget what God has done for us, so easy to long for something more than what we perceive is a simple meal that we often take for granted.
We need to recall the words of the crowd today, "Give us this bread always." We long for simple bread and then God gives us so much more. "I myself am the Bread of Life" Jesus tells us. It is what lies beyond the simplicity of this bread that we share, that Jesus makes into Himself that we need to long for always.
The meal which is not just made with the right amount of love...but that God offers to us as all that He has.
Your humble blogger is Mike Hayes, a well-known expert in the world of young adult ministry (20s and 30s) in the Catholic Church. Mike is the author of Googling God (Paulist, 2007) where he explores both the chaotic world that young people live in and their religious reactions to that world. He also explores the age of instant gratification and how churches can respond to the needs of the young adult age by using technology alongside more traditional ministry methods.
Mike founded the award winning BustedHalo.com® in 2001 and continues to contribute to it as the editor of their catechetical section appropriately named Googling God.
Recently, he left BustedHalo® to focus on more direct ministry with young people at St Joseph University Parish as a Campus Minister for the South Campus at the University at Buffalo.
He has only two loves: his adorable wife, Marion and a nine pound chihuahua named Haze, who still find him amusing enough to let them live in their home.