Jesus Christ and His Apostles were tired from preaching and serving the multitude of people and so Jesus told His Apostles that they would be going to a far place where they could be alone themselves to take their rest and also pray. The people, on the other hand, got hold of their plan and went ahead of them so that when Jesus and His Apostles reached the place, they were surprised to see the multitude of people waiting for them like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus forgot about their need to rest and rather addressed the need of the people by preaching to them, curing the sick, and exorcising the possessed. The Apostles, when they noticed that it was already late in the afternoon, suggested to Jesus to dismiss the people as they had nothing to feed such a multitude amounting to five thousand men not counting the women and the children. Jesus Christ did not heed their request; rather, He said to them: “Give them something to eat yourselves” (Lk 9:13).
We can see the great love and concern of Jesus towards the people in the gospel passage. Jesus was concerned not only about their spiritual salvation but also about their physical needs. He commanded His Apostles to address even the physical needs of the people. Jesus treated the people not simply as souls to be saved but also as bodies to be taken care of. In other words, Jesus treated the people as human persons, that is, composed of both body and soul. The Church learns from this example and teaching of Jesus; for this reason, she, focusing more on the spiritual needs of the faithful, does not ignore but rather addresses also the human needs of the faithful. We can see many charitable organizations our Church has. The local churches have their own Social Action that caters to the material needs of the people. Many religious congregations address the said material and human needs of the people with their school, hospital, prison, and media apostolate; others have charitable houses for the abandoned children and elderly, for the mentally ill and physically handicapped, etc.
God loves each of us and cares for us. He knows our bodily and spiritual needs. For this reason, in the gospel, Jesus prefigured the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in the multiplication of the loaves. The Holy Eucharist is the supreme gift Jesus has given us because, in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus is present in all His humanity and divinity. The Holy Eucharist is a true food both for the body and soul. By the reception of the Holy Eucharist, the faithful are strengthened by the grace of God and made capable to do the Will of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Holy Eucharist is the real necessity of every Christian for him to be able to live his own dignity as a child of God and to become faithful to the calling of Christ and to His teachings. When Mother Theresa of Calcutta was asked why she continuously attended the daily Holy Eucharist in the morning when it was evident that she was still tired because of the yesterday’s works for the poor, she replied that without the Holy Eucharist, she would never have the strength to continue serving the poor. Truly, the Holy Eucharist is the strength of every Christian for him to be truly who he is, that is, the disciple and servant of Christ for His people.
“Give them something to eat yourselves.” These words of Jesus remind us that He has given us a mission to take good care of our brethren and to address their needs. It is good to be reminded by Christ because we are too busy with ourselves that we do not see the needs of our neighbors. We are too occupied with ourselves, what we are to do, what we are to wear, to eat, to buy, etc., that we forget that we have our brethren around us who desperately need our help in one way or another. The words of Jesus Christ force us to see those needs of our brethren and to do our best to address them.
A Christian, therefore, is somebody who takes care of his brethren. A person who lives by himself and for himself can never be worthy to be called a Christian. No Christian is selfish. On the other hand, a genuine Christian is one who is always ready and willing to be of service to others. The reason behind this is that he sees in the needy Jesus Christ Himself. But we can never see and feel the presence of Jesus Christ in our needy brethren unless we accept and receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. It is the Holy Eucharist that gives us the capacity to love our neighbor even more than we love ourselves. It is the Holy Eucharist that makes us true Christians, lovers, and servers of the least, the last, and the lost. (REV. FR. ORLANDO MENDOZA/BICOLPERYODIKO/COLUMN)
SOLEMNITY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST
(White) Cycle C/Year II (June 19, 2023)
Gn 14:18-20; 1Cor 11:23-26; Lk 9:11-17