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RESPITE BEFORE PASSIONTIDE

Christ our Lord cared for the needs of His people, both by what He did and by what He said. Large crowds were eager to remain with the young rabbi who cured diseases, and so they followed Him to a lonely place apart, up in the hills. The people were far from home and they were hungry. Their immediate need was not doctrine, but food. He provided both.

That miraculous multiplication of food did two things. It fed the hungry Israelites, and it made them think. It brought to their mind what the book of Exodus described so many centuries before, when their starving ancestors had been fed with manna in the wilderness. Moses had prayed to God and the Israelites received bread from heaven. Now it was happening again. But this time the provider was Jesus of Nazareth.  

Christ’s feeding of the five thousand was an anticipation of the even greater miracle that He was subsequently to accomplish on the evening before He suffered. At the Last Supper He took bread, blessed it and broke it and gave it to his disciples: My Body. In that miraculous food He revealed Himself to be the new Passover sacrifice. He does the same miracle and gives the same revelation at every Mass.

The Lord’s Eucharist orientates us towards eternity. It points us beyond the present towards our eternal future in the life of the world to come. The Eucharistic banquet here below is a foretaste of the unending wedding feast which the Lord invites us all to be a part of, in paradise. Christ is the divine Bridegroom, and the human race is His bride. In heaven we shall celebrate our union with Him, for ever. All we have to do is to get ourselves there, thoroughly scrubbed and properly dressed. Lent is a good time to get on with the scrubbing.

On Laetare Sunday we rejoice to share in the Bridegroom’s wedding gift to us, His Eucharist. We rejoice briefly, before the shadows of Passiontide surround us.