To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 14:18-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Lk 9:11-17
In Luke, the placement of the periscope on the feeding of the five thousand is in an extremely significant position. This must be understood if the significance of the miracle is to be understood if the significance of the miracle is to be understood in its entirety. Immediately after Jesus sends his disciples out on mission, Luke inserts the question that Herod asks about Jesus’ identity. This is followed by the return of the twelve, the feeding of the five thousand, and a repetition of the question about Jesus’ identity. The placement of these incidents in this order is to indicate that Christology and mission, proclaiming Christ and doing what he would have done, are wedded as two sides of the same reality. Jesus’ identity is revealed in what he is and does and what he calls others to be and do. By the same token, those who desire to see and know who Jesus is, will see and know him only if they respond to his call to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and feed the hungry. This forms the background for the meaning of the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, the Eucharist.
The Eucharist, which is often relegated to the level of a ritual, was never meant to be merely that. The blessing at the end of the ritual states that those who have partaken of the Eucharist are sent forth to love and serve just as Jesus loved and served. The disciples are thus, expected to go beyond the ritual and take the Eucharist to the world. This is why, when Jesus saw the crowds following him, he not only welcomed them and spoke about the kingdom of God but he also healed and cured those who needed to be made whole. Not content with that, Jesus ordered that the crowds be fed with bread that the disciples were expected to provide. He then shows them how. Because Jesus fed the multitude, his disciples saw that he was God’s anointed one. In Luke, this combination of the feeding of the five thousand and Peter’s confession suggests that the recognition of Jesus as the Christ of God is linked to his action of reaching out and feeding the hungry. It is also a signal of what the Eucharist is really meant to be.
Thus, the Body of Christ today cannot be restricted to the bread and wine that is broken and shared on the altar. It is also made of the community who participate in the act. The second reading of today makes precisely this point. The “remembrance” to which the Corinthian community and those who partake in the Eucharist are called, is not merely to remember a past event to but making the past, present. The narrated history in the Eucharist becomes also the history of the partakers. The past of the event becomes their present. When they do this, they begin to”proclaim” even in the present, the Lord’s death until he comes. This means that they live out fully the implications of partaking in the body of Christ. Their faith makes itself known through who they become and what they do. This faith, which is alive and active, manifests itself to others and makes an impact on them. Others want to know what it is about the Christian community that makes them what they are and what gives them the motivation for what they do. Every time believers take part in the supper of the Lord, they relive God’s story as revealed in the Christ event. If they live it as they should, their very lives will become a fitting proclamation of the gospel to the world.
Therefore, the Eucharist is communion in a double sense. It is the most intimate sharing and participation with Christ. And, that very communion with Christ is also the sharing in and with other believers who, by definition, are also those “in Christ.” The Eucharist is thus inextricably both personal and communal. On the one hand, each individual receives the whole body of Christ. On the other hand, the whole community, gathered together in faith, also receives the whole body of Christ and becomes that body.
In a sense therefore, the Eucharist never ends. It goes on and on. As the identity of Jesus was revealed after the feeding of the five thousand, and act which shows concern, compassion, and empathy, so will the identity of believers be revealed, not merely when they, who have received the body of Christ, become that Body. They do this by going like Christ into the world and daring to become bread for everyone they meet.