In the Old Testament’s Second Book of Kings, we hear about a “feeding miracle.” With only twenty barley loaves, Elisha feeds a hundred people (cf. 2Kings 4:42-44). The people ate and there were some left over. This feeding miracle of Elisha prefigures, or represents, the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand in the Gospels of the New Testament. In fact, it is so important that it is the only miracle that is found in all four Gospels (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-15). The miracle itself is even more spectacular. With only five barley loaves and two fish, Jesus feeds five thousand people. However, this miracle was not meant only to demonstrate the greater power of Jesus over Elisha the prophet. More importantly, this feeding miracle of Jesus prefigures the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus took the barley loaves, gave thanks and gave them to the people. These are precisely the actions of Jesus in the Last Supper. He took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples. These are the four actions of the Perfect Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The bread is his Body, his willingness to offer himself in Sacrifice is his thanksgiving to the Father’s will and plan of salvation, his Body is broken on the Cross, and he gives up himself out of his love for all of us.
Psalm 145 assures us that it is the hand of the Lord that feeds us. It is he who answers all our needs. Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus fed the many types of hunger. In the feeding of the five thousand, he fed the hunger of the body. In his preaching and teaching, he fed the hunger of the mind and heart. And by instituting the Eucharist, Jesus feeds the hunger of our souls. The Eucharist is food and nourishment for the soul. Why? Because it is Jesus himself who is present in the Eucharist and it is he who gives himself to us unconditionally in his unparalleled self-giving love.
Therefore, how are we to respond to this great self-giving love of Jesus Christ? Among the Church’s members, there are different gifts, tasks, situations and ways of life. The great richness of this diversity is not opposed to the Church’s unity. Rather, it is sin that constantly threaten the Church’s unity. And so, St. Paul urges us to live in a manner of humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another and preserving peace, for we share one Lord, one faith, one baptism (cf. Ephesians 4:1-6). And might I add: we share one Eucharist.