Jesus’ actions in this Sunday’s Gospel – choosing, blessing, breaking and giving – foreshadows the total gift of self on the Cross, in the Eucharist. The fullest presence of the kingdom of God is revealed by the total gift of self. When we receive Jesus’ gift of self in the Eucharist and choose to be transformed into being that same gift for others, we are the visible presence of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God comes to fulfillment in every act of total self-giving. Jesus is the one who gave himself totally and continues to give himself to us in the Eucharist. In this gospel, Jesus not only fills the hungry with good things, he fills them to overflowing.
Human food leaves us hungry and desiring more. Jesus’ food leaves us satisfied. But the satisfaction comes from what the eating and drinking lead us to do: give ourselves over to others in self-surrender as Jesus did. The focus of this feast is not limited to the Eucharistic elements but leads to our pledge of self-giving.
When we eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ we are transformed more perfectly into the presence of the risen Christ for others. This transformation is both a gift and a challenge. It is the challenge to spend ourselves for others, to give of ourselves.
The deepest mystery of this feast is that we, too, must give our very own body and blood to others so that they may be satisfied. And when the leftover fragments of ourselves are gathered up, we will find ourselves sharing in the everlasting abundance of the banquet! Such a mystery!