NO VACANCIES THIS WEEK
by Fr Doug Harris 2021
We have heard in today’s Gospel how Jesus fed 5,000 men plus women and children, from just 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish; with 12 baskets of bread left over. In our time there have been many reported cases where food has miraculously multiplied.
Perhaps the most popular case occurred in the 1970’s in El Passo, Mexico. Some of the people in El Passo live on a rubbish dump. Their only food is what they can find in the rubbish. A Fr Rick Thomas invited people from the parish to provide a Christmas dinner for these poor people. Food was prepared for 200 people but about 500 arrived expecting Christmas dinner.
Yet, as the food was distributed it multiplied. Meat was carved, and other food handed out so that all 500 people received more than enough food, and plenty was leftover. The food had multiplied by about 10 times as much.
Both these miracles, the miracle in the Gospel and the miracle at El Passo reveal the love or generosity or concern God has for us, His children. He is concerned when we are hungry or in want and He provides in over abundance. In the Gospel, the people were completely satisfied, and, on top of that, there were 12 baskets of food left over. At El Passo the leftover food fed 5 orphanages. Our Lord provides! (see Mt 6:21 24-34). Jesus said: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat and what you will drink…look at the birds in the air, they neither sow nor reap and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.”
Our Lord’s generosity goes even beyond that. In the miracle of El Passo and in the Gospel, Our Lord multiplied food to satisfy physical hunger. In this Mass today, Our Lord will multiple the New Bread – the Eucharist – Himself to satisfy spiritual hunger. The very next day Jesus said to the crowds (Jn 6:35): “I Am the bread of life whoever comes to Me will never be hungry.
And (in verse 51): “Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.”
Our Lord is not satisfied to feed us physically, He loves us infinitely, therefore he gives us bread which is Himself. In the Eucharist Jesus gives us all He is and all He has in order to satisfy perfectly all our desires. If the Lord could give us more, He would, but there is no more.
Father Rick Thomas said Mass often at the rubbish dump in El Passo (because of that miracle of multiplication). On one occasion – a nun – Sr Briege McKenna was present. She tells the story of a young child who had fallen into a fire at the rubbish dump. The child was so badly burnt that Sr Briege said she didn’t know whether the child was a boy or girl. As Mass was about to start Fr Rick placed the child under the altar. After Mass the child was completely healed. All his skin had grown back. Therefore, the Eucharist not only gives spiritual healing but also ‘physical’ healing.
In our day there have been many reported physical healings as a result of receiving the Eucharist. I will mention two of these: A woman in Sydney had terminal cancer in her stomach. She prayed to be healed. As she received the Eucharist, she felt a burning sensation in her stomach. The doctor who examined her the next day could find no trace of cancer.
A miracle after receiving Holy Communion at St Bernadette’s church (2008), a person who regularly came here for Mass wrote: “I was having a pain on my right back for 2-3 weeks.
The pain was really sharp. I had to stand still for a minute till it goes off.
On this particular Sunday I was having this pain so frequently that it was obstructing my household chores, as I couldn’t lift my right hand, without the pain. In the evening I went for 7:00pm Mass with a question in my mind as to whether God is really hearing me or not when I am praying, because I was really depressed with the things which were going on with me.
Just before going to receive Holy Communion, I prayed: ‘God, I need to work for my daily bread if this pain doesn’t go off, I wouldn’t be able to survive, and everything is possible for You.’ Since receiving Holy Communion, I never had that pain again and I strongly believe that God is present in the Holy Eucharist.”
There have been people who have lived on Holy Communion. Due to a medical condition these people have not been able to digest food or liquid but mysteriously have been able to digest the Eucharist, eg. Luisa Piccarreta, Italian, died in 1947 after living solely on the Eucharist for 64 years. Teresa Neuman, German, died in 1961 after 42 years living solely on the Eucharist. Therefore, Holy Communion has sustained people both spiritually and physically.
In the prayer, the Our Father, Jesus prayed to His Father: “Give us this day our daily bread,” the Church Fathers explain that the word ‘bread’ meant, in particular, spiritual bread – the Eucharist. In other words, Jesus prayed for everyone to receive Him in Holy Communion every day. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Let us pray for that day!