John 6 Day 1

Day 1: Friday, April 12th

John 6:1-15

Fr. Reutter’s reflection

The chapter begins with the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes. This miracle is clearly directed to prepare the hearts of all believers for the far greater miracle that happens at every Mass: the changing of the bread and wine by the priest so that they become the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, even though they continue to appear to the senses to remain just bread and wine.

What is interesting about the passage is not just the miracle but the “before and after.” St. John records that great crowds follow Jesus into the desert because they saw his miraculous healings of

the sick. We might notice that Jesus’ miracles are in kind of an increasing order. He starts out small (changing water into wine with hardly anyone noticing the miracle), then He begins to heal the sick of their infirmities, then He multiplies the loaves and the fish, then restores to life Lazarus from His tomb, then ultimately rises from the dead, conquering sin and death.

So Jesus is trying to reveal that the miracle of the Eucharist is even greater than the miracles directed to the health of the body, because, as we will see, it can restore health to the soul.

At the end of this selection, we see Jesus fleeing the crowds because they were about to seize Him and make Him King. We can guess why. Who doesn’t like “free food?” Many of these followers are enthralled with someone who can provide food for their stomach where they don’t have to put any effort into acquiring it.

We will see Jesus later in this discourse taking great pains to tell them that this is no ordinary food. When we eat ordinary food, we will be hungry again almost immediately after eating that. But this Bread – His own Divine Presence – will satisfy the longing of every soul to be united with Jesus forever.

A take home point: If we really believe this, we might reflect on how we prepare to receive the Eucharist. Until very recent times, the Church required all of the faithful to fast before receiving Holy Communion (all day from midnight or at least three hours before Communion time over the years). Now she has all but eliminated the Communion fast which has been reduced to one hour before Communion time – almost nothing.

I think that was a mistake, because the little fasting we did reminded us in a very powerful way – nothing talks to us like an empty stomach! -- of how much more important the food of Hol Communion is compared to even the delicious Sunday brunch we might have afterward.

Even though it is no longer required, I encourage all parishioners who are in good health to return to the practice of fasting in some way before receiving Communion at Sunday Mass (for example, having only coffee or maybe a very light snack before coming to Mass). Our body and soul are united and this small sign and sacrifice on our part will help us appreciate the great sacrifice which Christ offered so that we could be fed with His Body and Blood.