Monday, July 5, 2010

Jesus is My Food, My Priest is My Server

Okay, so it appears I took the month of June off...

This was not intended, but I got lazy.  I apologize.

A few Sundays ago, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, we read Luke 9:11b-17, the Feeding of the Five Thousand.  Something interesting struck me in these verses.  In response to the apostles worried requests to dismiss the crowds to find food, Jesus says to them in verse 13, "Give them some food yourselves."  At first glance, this sounds a little biting, almost like he was annoyed by their worry and willingness to get rid of the crowd.  But I think there is something significant here.  Jesus did not want the people to be sent off; he wanted them to find their food in Him.  Not only that, but He was commanding His apostles to feed His people.  He was asking them to be priests, ministers of the food that only Christ could give.

Later in the passage, Jesus is the one who says the blessing and breaks the bread and fish, but He gives them to the apostles to bring to the people.  Jesus is the one who performs the miracle, but His apostles distribute it to the people.  The apostles play a key role in the people's ability to access the food.

I think many of us remember the passage from John 21 when Jesus reconciles with Peter by asking him three times "Do you love me?"  Each time, of course, Peter responds. "You know that I love you."  And Jesus answers back "Feed my lambs."  "Tend my sheep."  "Feed my sheep"  (John 21:15-19)  "Feed my lambs."  Christ was commissioning Peter to feed His people.  He was commissioning this great Apostle, this first pope, to feed us, both with God's Word and Jesus's Body in the Eucharist.

This idea of "feeding" can seem an odd one, but it is really quite beautiful.  We need food to live; it is one of our most basic necessities.  Yet God, of course, is the only necessity, and He promises to give us exactly what we need in life (Matt 6:25-36).  He wants to feed us; He wants to be our food.  We should not leave Him and try to find food elsewhere; we can only be truly full in Him.

But, as this passage suggests, we need priests to administer the sacraments, to bring the food of Christ to us.  Christ commands His apostles to organize the crowds and distribute the food.  He does not bring the food to the crowd Himself but He "gave [the bread and fish] to the disciples to set before the crowd" (v. 16) Without them, it would have been difficult to feed such a great number of people.  The apostles act as ministers of Christs miracle, just as priests are ministers of the Sacraments today.  Christ performs the miracle and brings it to us through our priests.

I want to be fed by Christ.  My true food is in Him.  Thank God that we have priests to bring it to me.

Jesus, I consume You in the Eucharist so that You may consume me.

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