Each Sunday we watch as he is broken apart. The priest raises his hands high so we can't miss the tearing apart of the host. But only when I read Pope Francis' homily for the Solemnity we celebrate today, Corpus Christi, did I realize the priest is recreating the breaking of the body of Christ on the cross. Obeying that long ago instruction: Do this in remembrance of me. Take the bread, give thanks and break it. Take the chalice, give thanks and share it.
The Gospel reading for this day is one we know well. The twelve approach Jesus to ask him to dismiss the crowd. They are tired, it's getting dark. We can sympathize because we are told that the crowd numbered 5000 men. We can assume there were women and children there as well, a huge crowd in a deserted place. We can imagine children crying, hungry, the crowd restless, it 's been a long day. The apostle's words are practical: 'Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions for we are in a deserted place here." Christ's reply is one of his abrupt almost harsh commands.
He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves."
With ease, we can put ourselves in the shoes of his men. Can guess what they had to be thinking. But they reply with what Christ surely knows, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have unless we go and buy food for all these people." And we know the rest.
Pope Francis reminds us of the other meaning of those words, Do this in remembrance of me, by connecting Christ's reply to his disciples with his request. "Indeed, it is Jesus who blesses and breaks the loaves and provides sufficient food to satisfy the whole crowd, but it is the disciples who offer the five loaves and two fish. Jesus wanted it this way: that, instead of sending the crowd away, the disciples would put at his disposal what little they had. And there is another gesture: the pieces of bread, broken by the holy and venerable hands of Our Lord, pass into the poor hands of the disciples, who distribute these to the people. This too is the disciples “doing” with Jesus; with him they are able to “give them something to eat”. Clearly this miracle was not intended merely to satisfy hunger for a day, but rather it signals what Christ wants to accomplish for the salvation of all mankind, giving his own flesh and blood (cf.Jn 6:48-58). And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish which we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all....May this action of the Eucharistic procession, which we will carry out shortly, respond to Jesus’ command. An action to commemorate him; an action to give food to the crowds of today; an act to break open our faith and our lives as a sign of Christ’s love for this city and for the whole world.