"... give them some food yourselves."
A young man passes the church in his truck and makes the sign of the Cross. A couple distraught over the illness of a newborn grandson stop at the rectory to ask the priest to pray with them and light a candle in the church. A mother grieving over the death of a son and a catechist who discovers he disagrees with a teaching of the Church both react by falling away from regular attendance at Sunday Mass. These and many more stories tell the tale of those who have gone "away" from Christ and are lacking the comfort of forgiveness and love He offers as God in His Church. As Christ tells us, "there is no need for them to go away".
We who live so as to remain near to Christ and to grow in the grace of Faith grieve for those who are no longer with us on the Lord's Day at Mass. In loving concern we want to know what to do in order to help them. And yet we know it is not us they need but that all that they seek is found in Christ. Though they may be "Catholics on leave" Christ is actively calling them back to the fold of the Church and he sends us to help him in this task. Because we are one with Christ our Eucharist there is in fact something that we can do in compassion for those who have left the fold. How can we help? "Give them some food yourselves".
We work with Christ in the apostolate through the graces of prayer, witness and love which all flow from the Lord's Eucharistic Presence. This same Gift leads us and all the world back to Him as "source and summit" of the Christian life. In this way we follow the urging of Christ in today's Gospel: "give them some food".
We express our faith by being witnesses to the power of God who, present in the Eucharist, has the capacity to feed and sustain every human person without exception. The same God who multiplies the loaves to satiate the hunger of the multitude with a superabundance of leftovers is the same God who gives Himself in the Eucharist. Everyone will find their needs satisfied in Christ who gives Himself in the Sacrament of the Altar. The miracle in today's gospel points to this power of God.
"The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist. The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus' glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father's kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ." (CCC 1335)
Such is the power of our prayer in the Eucharist that we know the Father hears us in the same way as He always hears Christ the Son.
" 'If any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.' Such is the power of the Church's prayer in the name of her Lord, above all in the Eucharist. Her prayer is also a communion of intercession with the all-holy Mother of God and all the saints who have been pleasing to the Lord because they willed his will alone". (CCC 2827)
This being true, we must make every effort to intercede for everyone who is faltering in their journey of Faith as we surely also have.
We witness by our presence at this Holy Sacrifice to those who need to rediscover God here.
"Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit." (CCC 2182)
The Eucharist is the source of Love needed by the world.
"The sacraments are 'of the Church' in the double sense that they are 'by her' and 'for her.' They are 'by the Church,' for she is the sacrament of Christ's action at work in her through the mission of the Holy Spirit. They are 'for the Church' in the sense that 'the sacraments make the Church,' since they manifest and communicate to men, above all in the Eucharist, the mystery of communion with the God who is love, One in three persons. (CCC 1118)
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Image: Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, St. Savior in Chora, Istanbul.