by Fr Joseph Mafola
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Jesus welcomed the crowds, Jesus welcomes the Christian Community Sunday after Sunday as he kindly welcomed the crowds: we may absent ourselves or might arrive late at the service but Jesus is never absent. He precedes us all and welcomes us with open arms. This is what we call the table of the Word.
Jesus longs to heal our spiritual maladies as He healed the people listening to Him. He still invites us to repent from our sins, the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration. If we sincerely repent, we are sure of being forgiven. As he instructed the crowds about the kingdom of God he instructs us about the kingdom of God. Urging us to joyfully submit to God’s loving rule and he does this through the reading and explanation of the Word of God that precedes the celebration of the Eucharist.
In Luke’s account, Jesus invited the Apostles to provide food for the crowd on their own “Give them something to eat.”(Lk 9:13). The Apostles expressed their inability to do so. In the celebration of the Eucharist Jesus invites his priests to join him in preparing the food, his own body and blood which the Christian community needs and then distribute it.
The words Jesus used resemble those He pronounced at the last supper to change the bread and wine into His body and blood (Lk 9:16) and (Lk 22:19). In the multiplication of the loaves He chose to make use of five loaves and two fish a boy had brought for his own meal. In the Eucharist Jesus accepts the bread and wine, the gifts of the community and makes use of them to prepare His own body and blood. His gifts to the community.
We admire Jesus’ concern for the hungry crowd listening to His teachings and we admire His love in giving Himself as food to everyone at the last supper. Jesus displays the same love and concern for us at each celebration of the Eucharist. For the Eucharist to yield its fruits the Christian community must celebrate it united in mutual love as St Paul commands. St Paul stresses the supreme love of Christ in giving himself to us in the Holy Eucharist. Paul says that through the Eucharist Jesus established a “New Covenant”. This New covenant commits everyone to “loving one another as Jesus Himself, loved us” (Jn 13:34).
Individually we signed that covenant when we were baptised, but Jesus invites us to affix our signature afresh each time we partake of the Eucharist. St Paul warns Christians of Corinth and each one of us, that mutual union among members of the community and concern for the weaker members in it, are essential conditions to celebrate the Eucharist in a worthy manner. (1cor 11:18-20).
We must examine ourselves each time we celebrate the Eucharist – to partake of it at loggerheads with one another or ignoring the needs of the weaker members in the community would amount to turning the best of foods into a dangerous poison. Mutual union and concern for our brothers and sisters in the community are essential conditions to celebrate the Eucharist in a worthy manner.
AKADVUNYISWE JESU KHRISTU!