Each Sunday we hear a Gospel passage written by one of the four evangelists: Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. The readings are arranged in a three-year cycle so that every three years, for a whole year, we hear from one evangelist. In this year, year “B,” we have been reading from St. Mark’s Gospel.
Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, St. John’s account is not read in one particular year, but instead we hear passages from St. John during Lent, during the Sundays of Easter and in year “B” on the 17th to 21st Sundays.
Today we listen to the first verses of chapter six in which John records Jesus’ teaching about the bread of life. Like the good teacher that he is, Jesus begins by giving people an experience, and then he unpacks the deeper meaning.
Today’s first reading from the second Book of Kings was chosen because it sets the stage for the miracle described in the Gospel. The prophet Elisha received a gift of 20 barley loaves made from the first fruits of the harvest and chose to share with the people over the objection of his servant, who worried that there wouldn’t be enough for the hungry crowd.
Elisha directed the servant to feed them and assured him “they shall eat and there shall be some left over.” And there was.
In the Gospel account, Jesus had been teaching and healing the sick, and as a result, large crowds followed him into the countryside. When he saw the vast number of people, Jesus asked Philip about providing food for them, but was told, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.” But another disciple, Andrew, brought forward a boy with five barley loaves and two fish. And we know the rest of the story. After all had been fed, the fragments were gathered and there were 12 baskets of leftovers.
We come to the Table of the Word and the Eucharist, longing to be fed. We hunger for meaning, a sense of belonging, hope, and strength as we walk the journey of faith. We come together because we have been called as one people. And each week there is enough for all of us — and more than enough — Christ’s life is given in abundance so that we can share God‘s gift that we have received.
As we come forward this Sunday to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord, let us be conscious of our open hands, ready to receive our gift that was offered and that has been transformed. Let us consciously bow our heads in reverence for the Lord of Life who comes to share his life with us. And as a community of faith, let us walk and receive and sing together, recognizing, accepting, and becoming what we are — the Body of Christ.
Sr. Rehrauer is the director of Evangelization and Worship for the Diocese of Green Bay