Eucharist Miracle Eucharist Miracles

Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of June 10, 2007

1st Reading: Gen 14:18-20; Psalm 109; 2nd Reading: 1 Cor 11:23-26; Gospel: Lk 9:11-17

I have often invited you, and I believe I have also taught you to find, in the Word of God, a logical and chronological disposition and to analyze the texts that are offered for reading in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration. You will always find a single theme that has a logic, clear sequence, so that those who manage to read them intelligently are at ease in following the homilies I want to illustrate, to make them understood, to taste and assimilate them. What is the logic and chronologic arrangement to give to these texts? First of all comes the passage from Genesis, then the Gospel of Luke, and finally the First Letter to the Corinthians. These are passages you all know, especially Luke and Paul, perhaps a little in the shadows is the Genesis passage, but we cannot always give great importance and relevance to the whole scripture because the books are many and what has been written is plentiful indeed. But now, calmly and asking for help and light from the Holy Spirit, we are moving towards the contemplation of what the Lord told us, even if the passages we have read and that were written at its time have a time distance of several centuries between them, especially between the first, the second and third. Let us begin to understand the passage from Genesis.

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything (Gn 14:18-20).

As you know Abraham was called by God from the city of Ur, in Chaldea, to the territory that the Lord would have indicated to him, Cana, and there would be born a nation that would have kept a covenant with God and that would have been the depository of the Word of God and the promise of the birth of the messiah, the redeemer. To clearly remember from time to time what the Jewish people were called to do, the Lord gave some teachings and here is a teaching that anticipates realities that will then be actualized and made present in the New Testament. Abraham has won over his enemies and meets this character, Melchizedek, of whom we know nothing, yet he is an important character because he anticipates the character of Christ as the supreme and eternal priest. In Genesis the qualifications of Melchizedek are highlighted, he is a King and he is a priest and the expression: "He offered bread and wine" should not be understood as a kind of banquet to celebrate a victory but it is a real offertory act, that is to say the gifts of the earth are offered to God to thank Him for His assistance, therefore this king carries out an exquisitely priestly task, so much so that, that in the books of the New Testament, this character is presented as a prefiguration of Christ’s priesthood, but allow me to add also the Eucharistic sacrifice because bread and wine are the elements with which the Eucharist is celebrated, the elements indicated by Christ. So this choice of nourishment is made many centuries before and it is maintained by the Jewish people as something alive and vibrant, which must find a counterpart in the reality of things. Unfortunately, for the Jewish people it will not be so, but it will be so for many other peoples who approach the Lord not only through the testimony of the word, through teaching, but also through the great miracles and great interventions.

Let's move on to the Gospel passage.

But the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”

He replied, “You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish - unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.) But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. (Lk 9:11-17)

Why does Luke tell and dwell on the multiplication of the loaves? Because the multiplication of the loaves, which is a miraculous intervention of our Lord, is a condition and an anticipation of the great Eucharistic miracle. In Luke we do not find, after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, the great discourse that is contained in the sixth chapter of St. John on the institution of the Eucharist: "You want to make me King because I gave you a bread with which you were fed but I will give you another bread which is my body..." We must keep in mind, to well understand its meaning, that this passage was chosen because it must bring us back to the announcement, to the message of the great Eucharistic miracle because every time we priests celebrate the Eucharist we accomplish a great event, a great miracle because making God present is the event, it is the greatest miracle that could take place and unfortunately this has not been understood, as yet. Making Christ present in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is the greatest event and today you have felt Our Lady’s unhappiness: "Instead of praising Christ the Eucharist, they praised the one who should be the servant of Jesus the Eucharist" but unfortunately, after two thousand years, we priests and bishops have not yet been able to make them understand what could be understood by the presence and importance of the Eucharist. And I hope that through our Lord's intervention, the Eucharistic miracles that happened in this place will be a precious boost so that the Christian people can truly understand the Eucharistic reality. So the multiplication of the loaves is an event that anticipates the great discourse that is symbol and figure of the Eucharist. There is a detail on which I invite you to linger: when the apostles went to Jesus and asked him: "Dismiss this crowd because they must eat", what did Jesus say? You give them to eat! But isn't this a provocation? Isn't it a challenge? It seems that the Lord has this style and way and He did it many times and I remember, by reading this, that many times He also put us in situations of having to ask ourselves how is it possible, how can we do what He is asking us to do? But probably, indeed certainly, he does it to arouse within us the true faith in Him because we do not feel up to the task or anyway capable, instead You are capable, and Jesus replies: "Didn't you understand? So I will see to it", so it was regarding the multiplication of the loaves.

Now we come to Paul, to this passage taken from the First Letter to the Corinthians.

I received a tradition from the Lord, which I also handed on to you: on the night on which he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread. After giving thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.” He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.” Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes. (1 Cor 11:23-26)

Four times we find in the scripture the story of the institution of the Eucharist: in the Gospel of Matthew, in the Gospel of Mark, in the Gospel of Luke and in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, but out of the four texts, the closest to the time of the institution is Paul’s text because this passage was written by Paul some thirty years after the last supper, while the written version of the Gospels by the evangelists come later. Some may even have some doubts and wonder: Matthew is an apostle, Luke and Mark are not apostles but they are disciples and they heard directly from the apostles the story of the last supper, and Paul? Here we find ourselves in the same situation as when we asked ourselves about Paul's episcopal ordination and we were told that Paul received episcopal ordination directly from Christ. Paul makes this statement "I have received from the Lord what I have passed on to you". Many exegetes, those who study and explain the Word of God, have given to this expression a figurative and metaphorical meaning and since the apostles have received from the Lord the task of explaining, announcing his Word, Paul, just as the others, received the story of the institution of the Eucharist and priesthood from the apostles, but when Paul says: "I have received from the Lord" the most obvious thing, the simplest explanation is that Paul was ordained bishop by Jesus and had a series of conversations with the Lord who prepared him for his apostolic mission, then he received directly from Christ the teaching of the Word of God and he treasured it and understood what was his first task "I preach Christ and the Christ crucified". Paul was sent, and he says it, to announce the Word and reserved this task for himself, but the importance of the announcement of the Word was properly placed in his heart by the talks and meetings he had with Jesus. There is yet another remark to make regarding the expression: "On the night he was betrayed". Why does Paul draw the moment of the institution of the Eucharist close to what is perhaps most ugly in human relationship which is betrayal, specifically the betrayal by Judas? Oh No, my dear! Here is present some other thing going back to the teaching Paul received from Christ. Christ is God, for Him there is no distinction between future, present and past, therefore in the moment of the institution of the Eucharistic mystery, Christ felt the suffering of all the betrayals that men would be showing over the centuries against Him in different ways: sacrilegious masses, sacrilegious communions, profanations of the Eucharist, celebrations of the Eucharist without believing in what was done, but simply forced by needs and commitments undertaken in order to do it. Therefore, when the apostles certainly rejoiced because they were prepared to accept this mystery, when the apostles rejoiced because they understood that they were before the Eucharistic reality, Christ suffered because He was facing all the betrayals. What then? We are keen to console those who suffer, first of all our relatives, friends, acquaintances, so Christ also saw, beyond betrayals, those who would have loved him, he saw each of us; are you amazed by this? But He is God, for us it is almost impossible to think of it, while it costs Him nothing to implement it. So He saw each of us, saw the spiritual dispositions in our heart, saw the faith in the Eucharist, our love for Him, Jesus the Eucharist, and if He suffered because of the betrayals, He was also comforted by these testimonies in His regard. Therefore, at this point, what could we promise and commit to achieve but to continue, insist, improve the relationship and grow daily in faith, in love for the Eucharist, which is truly the center of life. Every priest, but I believe that this could be extended to all the faithful, should say: "the Eucharist is the reason for my Mass, or rather, the Eucharist is the reason for my life"; this was written in the holy card of my first mass, I said "of my mass" on purpose because I have recollected and connected the two facts, "the Eucharist is the reason of my life". This task however is not just up to the priest, it is also the task of those who truly love Christ, so here there are the teachings of the Mother of the Eucharist: "Go to Mass every day and if you cannot go for any serious reason, receive the spiritual communion and I", she said, "who is your mother, and know how things go, can assure you that Jesus will still come within you". This is a really big and huge gift that the Mother of the Eucharist has given to us today. It had always been said that with spiritual communion we have the moral, figurative presence of Jesus because we did not have the audacity to say "real presence"; Today Our Lady, and it is a gift that she made to the whole Church, said to us: "My son Jesus comes", but is Jesus forced by situations and circumstances? No, Jesus is free, He is God, but you see how slowly we are debunking so many things that we have been taught, unfortunately in an incomplete and even erroneous way. The called Christ comes within us. But, basically, also in the Gospel there is this certainty that was neglected for reasons I do not know: "the Father and I will come to you and make our abode with you", this is what Jesus said. But how petty or rather, presumptuous we are, if we claim to tell God what He must do and how He must do it; this is a huge sin, this is awful, but instead we want to enjoy this gift and then, pay attention, we can, during the day, multiply Jesus' entry into our soul, we can accommodate Him, invite Him to be really present within us every time we want and this is really something beautiful, great; so today, in the moment of communion when Jesus will be within you, have an appointment every day and several times during the day so that He can return and be present within your soul. We praise God for this, we are grateful to God for this and move forward.

Praised be Jesus Christ.