Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs the crowd to sit on the ground. Taking the seven loaves and a few fish, he makes a meal that satisfies the enormous crowd. They are hungry, tired, and worn out from their exertions, and Jesus gives them sustenance for the day.
For Thomas Aquinas, the great metaphor for the Eucharist is sustenance, food for the journey. The Eucharist is daily food, nourishment to get us through the day-to-day. How effective would we be if we never ate, or ate only on special occasions and in a festive environment? Not very. So, in the spiritual life, we must eat and drink or we will not have strength.
Is this just meant in some vague symbolic way? No, rather in a vividly analogical way. For just as the body needs physical nourishment, the spirit needs spiritual nourishment, and there is no getting around this law.
Sometimes we think it’s no big deal if we choose to stay away from Mass and refrain from receiving Communion. Not so, according to the spiritual physics laid out in this account.
Reflect: Do you notice any change in your life when you don’t receive Communion for awhile?