Preparing for Mass

August 02, 2020. By Deacon Michael Houtchen

Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

Gospel Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.  When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place, and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

Are we satisfied?

Check out these words from the Gospel.  “Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.”  What does that remind you of?  How about the Eucharistic meal we share at every Mass?  Doesn’t the priest take the host and holding it high. says a blessing.  Then the priest breaks the host and gives it to the disciples, a.k.a. the Eucharist Ministers, who then gives it to the crowd, a.k.a. the congregation.

And, the Gospel says, they, the crowds, ate and were satisfied.  When we take communion, are we satisfied?  Are you satisfied?  I think it comes down to what you believe the Eucharist is.  Do you believe the Eucharist is His body and blood?  If not, how then can you indeed be satisfied?  

Surprisingly, the majority of Catholics today think the Eucharist is not His body and blood, but only symbols of His body and blood.  What changed?  You see, Holy Tradition tells us since the beginning of church history, the Eucharist is, without a doubt, the body and blood of Christ.  Thebishops and priests didn’t make this up.  They got it from Holy Scripture.

They got it from Jesus’ lips:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26: 26-28).

Saint Paul would say:

The cup of blessing that we bless is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16).

This is my favorite:

Jesus said to them, Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” Then many of his disciples who were listening said, This saying is hard; who can accept it? As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.  Jesus then said to the Twelve, Do you also want to leave? Simon Peter answered him, Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God. (John 6: 53-56, 60, 66-69).  

I say this passage from John is my favorite because I’m not sure I wouldn’t haven’t felt like the disciples.  I am not a cannibal and thinking thus, I may have gone home.  But from Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture, I have learned the truth.  The Eucharist is Jesus, and yes, when I eat his flesh and drink his blood, I am satisfied, for, like Peter, I believe Jesus has the words to eternal life.