Here is today’s Gospel, from St Matthew: ‘Now when Jesus heard this, [the death of John the Baptist] he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

St John Chrysostom commented: ‘See Him on every occasion departing, for not by His appearance only, but by His actions He would have this confirmed, because He knew the devil’s craft, and that he would leave nothing undone to destroy this doctrine. He then for this end retires; but the multitudes not even so withdraw themselves from Him, but they follow, riveted to Him, and not even John’s tragical end alarmed them. So great a thing is earnest desire, so great a thing is love; in such wise does it overcome and dispel all dangers. Therefore they straightway also received their reward. For Jesus, it is said, went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick’.

The Gospel account goes on to describe the feeding of the five thousand, with the actions of Jesus (He took … He blessed … He broke … He gave …) prefiguring the institution of the Eucharist at the Last supper. These actions are repeated at every Mass.

May the Eucharist, ‘source and summit’ of our lives, permeate every aspect, so that we are gradually transformed into His likeness. May God bless you this day.