The Gospel for today is the story of the loaves and the fishes. Of course this famous story is the precursor of the Eucharist. Jesus fed the crowd with a small amount of food with enough left over for each of the disciples to have a wicker basket full of the leftovers.
Father Thomas Merton had this t0 say about the Eucharist in his book, The Living Bread:
“Now in the sacrament of the Eucharist, precisely, when we ask the question [What is this?] of the consecrated Host, we must listen to the answer of faith, which responds in the words of Christ “This is my Body.” The words “my Body” designate the only substantial being which is now present. There no longer remains anything of the substance of bread. We see the accidents of bread, but they contain the substance of the Body of Christ.”
The Eucharist may be one of the greatest tests of our faith. It looks like bread. It tastes like bread. Common sense tells us that it must be just that, a simple combination of flour and water. But Jesus said it was His Body. If he lied to us about that, how can we believe anything else He said?
But He didn’t and doesn’t lie. It’s Jesus’ inability to tell us a falsehood that makes our faith possible and tests our faith as well. Face it, He made some pretty outrageous claims. Some believed His words. Some didn’t. As we head into the final days of Christmas, we might want to examine our faith. Without faith how can there be life? The answer is that there can’t. Everyone, even atheists, have faith in something.
We have faith that we’ll wake up tomorrow morning. We have no proof. We have faith. We have faith that the car coming toward us at 60 miles per hour will stay in its own lane. The driver could be drunk or could be talking on his or her cell phone and not paying attention. Again, no proof. Just faith. The examples go on and on.
But if we have faith in God and in the words of His Son, then faith in anything else is trivial at best. If we don’t wake up tomorrow or if that other driver does crash into us head-on, we know, through faith, that God has something better waiting for us. How do we know? I think you know the answer.