Many years ago I read a book. I don’t remember either the author or the title, I barely remember that the main character had travelled in Palestine a dozen years after Jesus’ death trying to meet people who knew Jesus. There is just one thing I really do remember from that book: the explanation of the miracle from today’s gospel. The explanation was simple and not miraculous in the way we suppose. According to that book people in the crowd following Jesus had their own provisions, but they were afraid to take them out from their bags – it was too little to share them with others. But when the people saw that Jesus started sharing this little he had they took their own food and shared it with others.
Maybe this explanation is stupid or unbelievable, but for me it describes the exact effect of the Eucharist in our lives: opening us to see the needs of others. The essence of Eucharist is love. First of all this is love of Jesus towards each of us. There should be no doubt in our hearts when we hear these words: this is my body […] given up for you; this is my blood, shed for you. The measure of this love was the death of Jesus on the cross. Saint Paul reminds us that every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death, until the Lord comes.
This love, symbolised by Eucharist, has another dimension. The Eucharistic prayer contains these words: Do this in memory of me. Literally these words direct us that the Eucharist should be conducted liturgically as a ceremony; but these words have another meaning, similarly important: making a sacrifice of our own life.
These are two dimensions of Eucharist: receiving love from its source and passing it to others. In fact, the ability to love others is the only real test of our understanding of Eucharist. I hope we all are passing this test well in our ordinary life.