01 June 2013


Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
Lk 9:11-17 (Gn 14:18-20 / Ps 110 / 1 Cor 11:23-26)

A seminarian was sent to a poor village for his summer apostolate.  Upon arriving, he immediately saw the wretched condition of the people living in that village.  He whispered to himself, “Kawawa naman sila” (“How miserable they are”).  He was assigned to live with with one of the poor families of the village, eating what the family eats, sleeping where the family sleeps, sharing practically in everything – if there was anything – that the family had.  He “tasted” poverty raw and plain.  While there, the seminarian kept on telling to himself:”Kawawa naman sila” (“What a pitiful lot they are”).  Unfortunately, one of the children of the family he was living with became so sick and because the family did not have the money, the child died without receiving any medical attention.  During the wake, the seminarian, while shaking his head, kept saying, “Kawawa naman sila.  Kawawa naman sila.” (“How pitiful”).  When his summer apostolate was over, the seminarian said thank you and goodbye to his host community.  Thereupon, the village leader asked him what he thinks about their community.  The seminarian, teary eyed, answered, “Kawawa naman po kayo” (“I pity you”).  “Is there anything you can do to help us?” asked the leader.  Apparently surprised, the seminarian asked, “Do?”  “Do I have to do anything?  But I was sent here only to observe!” he said.  Hearing his response, the entire village chorused, “Hijo, kawawa ka naman” (“How I pity you, young man”).

In the Gospel today, the Twelve saw the hunger of the people, but they were at a lost how to satisfy it.  They themselves were hungry and all they had were five loaves and two fish.  They did not even have enough for themselves!  Thus, they advised Jesus to send the people away to find lodging and food for themselves.  But Jesus thought otherwise: “Give them some food yourselves.”  That the Twelve’s solution to the crisis was to dismiss the people, but Jesus' was to gather the people instead.

When the Twelve brought to Jesus the little they had, Jesus ordered them to make the people sit into groups of fifty.  Taking what they gave Him, Jesus raised His eyes to heaven, said the blessing over the donation, divided it, then gave it back to the Twelve for distribution to the hungry crowd.  What followed was a miracle: All had eaten as much as they wanted.  And there were even twelve wicker baskets filled with leftovers!

The lesson for the apostles is still the lesson for us today.  It is never enough to recognize the needs of our brethren.  We must do something about them.  Compassion for others is not simply feeling sorry for those who are in need.  Compassion should lead us to empathy whereby we experience what others experience.  Their hunger becomes our hunger, their pain becomes our pain, their need becomes our need.  This empathy should be so strong so that we are moved to serve those whom we observe.  The suffering of our brethren that rends our hearts into pieces must open our hands and stretch our arms so as to attend to their plight and really make them among our important concerns in life.

Running away or sending the people away was not the solution to the problem that confronted Jesus and the Twelve in the Gospel today.  Instead, it was staying with Jesus, gathering together, and sharing what they had - yes, even the little they had.  The same advice Jesus gives us today.  The solutions to the many and varied hungers of others are in us because we ourselves are the solutions.  It was not the five loaves and two fish that satisfied the hungry crowd in the Gospel.  It was the Twelve themselves – surrendering to Jesus whatever little they had – who fed the hungry crowd.  They satisfied the kind of hunger that went beyond craving for food because the crowd, in the first place, tagged along with them for they hunger for the word of God.  By giving away whatever little they had after Jesus blest it, the Twelve became the best statement of what the word of God says.  The word of God urges us to be the same: the best example of what we preach.

And what do we preach?  “We preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1:23) and raised from the dead.  We proclaim that He is alive and made Himself food for the life of the world.  This is our message, for this is our belief. This is our feast, for this is how we live.

As we celebrate today the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, we feed on the Lord.  But our celebration is only half done if we are the only ones whose hunger is satisfied.  After feeding on Him, we must go and feed others with the same Christ by our words and deeds.  The more we feed on Jesus, the more we should become like Him.  The more we receive the Eucharist, the more our lives should be Eucharistic.  A Eucharistic life is a life that is spent not in observing others but in serving them.

When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist today, let us truly mean it when we say, “Amen.”  Let our “amen” signify our readiness to go forth and serve our brothers and sisters even to the point of being “food” for their hunger.  The Breaking of Bread, as the Holy Mass was first referred to by the early Christian community, should naturally flow into the Breaking of Selves.  Our selves.


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