June 19, 2022 – Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/061922.cfm)
How often do you go hungry, physically? With people who have easy access to food supply, to feel hungry is a choice, perhaps because of workload, so the meal is being delayed. Others, perhaps because of dieting, in order to lose weight. Yet, to many who do not have an easy access to food supply, being hungry is not a choice, but a struggle they cannot avoid.
According to World Bank, hunger levels remain alarmingly high, globally, with a number close to 193 million people acutely food insecure. UNICEF also said that there are 95 Filipino children dying every day because of malnutrition. While the recent SWS result said that there is a total of about 12.2% of Filipinos or an estimated number of 3.1 million Filipino Families who experienced hunger in the first quarter of 2022. Out of this 3.1 million, 2.4 million families have experienced moderate hunger while 744,000 families have to survive as they were having severe hunger.
Hunger, indeed, is everywhere. Despite the advancement of our technology, food security remains a problem. There is a need for us that we too shall become aware of the hunger that many of our brothers and sisters around us are suffering. We cannot just be blind and indifferent to this need. Our readings this Sunday, on this Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ would actually help us to be more conscious of such hunger and other forms of hunger around us. The Lord through this sacrament of the Holy Eucharist nourished us, yet, this also calls us to be able to respond, as individuals and as a church.
The Gospel reading we have today captures on how we are called to respond. So let us see how we are being called today.
The disciples upon seeing the crowd of people wanted to dismiss them so that they can look for food. At this moment, the disciples could not see their responsibility to provide food for the crowd since they did not have the resources. This was the reason why the twelve asked Jesus to dismiss the people. Naturally, they were worried because they did not have enough food for themselves.
However, what was surprising was the response of Jesus. “Give them some food yourselves,” Jesus told them. Such a response was perhaps ridiculous to the minds of the disciple. They were conscious that what they have were only five loaves and two fish. Hence, the anxiety of the disciples came from that scarcity. If they would give the little that they have, what would be left? In the minds of the disciples, there will be nothing for them. They will go hungry. And they were not ready to do such a thing.
Such attitude and belief of the disciples tell us something about ourselves. Our natural tendency is to keep things for ourselves. We think first of ourselves. We first take care of our needs. Yet, when it becomes our anxiety, this can blind us, not being able to recognize the needs of others and separates us from the difficulties of people around us. This explains why the disciples wanted to dismiss the people. They did not want to take care of their needs. Hence, they too became dismissive and indifferent.
But then, this was how Jesus revealed to the disciples and now to us that it is in generously giving oneself that we find satisfaction and true fulfillment in life. This is the reason why we celebrate the Eucharist and this Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, for Jesus himself offered and generously gave his own body and blood, his whole life for our sake.
The multiplication of bread and fish was the very image of a life being shared to others in which those who have received were also inspired to give and make the sacrifice for others. This will remain powerful in us when the memory of giving oneself is preserved and done out of gratitude.
This is how Paul reminded us in the second reading. Paul shared his gratitude as he said, “I received from the Lord what I also handed to you.” Paul himself who received Christ in his life, was motivated and inspired to also give his own life for others as his concrete expression of making the memory of Jesus alive. And as he expressed that gratitude, he also reminded the people at Corinth of the command of Jesus, “Do this in memory of me!” The sharing of the meal is meant to be shared to all and should come from a heart that is grateful. Once this is done out of the context of the community and without gratitude, then, it ceases to be a powerful memory of Jesus.
That is why Paul wrote this letter to remind them of the errors they did. The people became neglectful of the true meaning of the Lord’s Supper. For the people, it was just an occasion of eating and drinking. But, the Lord’s Supper is more than that but doing it in the memory of Jesus, making the bread and wine into true body and blood of Christ that gives life to others.
Now, on this solemnity, there are at least three invitations for us in order to make the memory of Jesus more alive and powerful in us.
First, give without grumbling and give out of generosity. This will only be possible when we also remain grateful no matter how little we have in life.
Second, as we truly receive Christ in this Eucharist, be always life-giving, as Christ gives us his life. We can only be life-giving when we think less of ourselves and less of our comfort.
Third, share a meal with the hungry. When you have an opportunity to feed a person who is hungry, please do not close your eyes, do not dismiss or send them away without nothing.
As we allow these invitations be made concrete in our actions, may our way of life will also truly become a powerful memory of Jesus today. Kabay pa.