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Compassion and Food
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Everything our Lord said and did throughout His earthly ministry, He did for you. And everything He continues to do today during the Holy Supper, through the sacred mysteries of the faith and in our lives, He does for you. What man can take seven loaves and a few small fish, and make enough to feed such a large crowd? What man would be tender-hearted enough to have compassion on four-thousand people? And what man can order sinful, unworthy men to use bread and wine to give you His life-sustaining flesh and blood? What man would have such compassion, such love, that he would lay down his life so that you might draw near to God in this Holy Communion? But that is what we receive today. We hear of our Lord feeding the multitude that had faithfully come to Him, and we receive from His own hand the Bread of eternal life and the Cup of salvation.
Our Lord makes use of simple elements of bread and wine. He converts them for a higher use than we can understand. He does these things willingly and gladly, and in doing so He shows us His remarkable love and compassion. Consider how costly it is for Jesus to bless and consecrate the bread and wine. This is not some empty ritual. It’s not a metaphor for His care. It is not merely a visual demonstration of what He can do for you. What we receive at this altar is the Lord Jesus Himself. It is His true and actual Body and Blood, which was born of the Blessed Virgin, and then was crucified under Pontus Pilate, suffered, died, was buried, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. At the expense of His entire life, we get the medicine of immortality, salvation from our mortal enemies, and real unity and fellowship with God.
The expense is not only what Our Lord Jesus endured for our sake. The expense is also what we must suffer and endure from the devil, the world and our own sinful selves—because we are baptized in the bloody water from His side, and because we eat His Body and drink His Blood. That expense, though heart-wrenching, is not worthy to be compared with the glory that these Holy Sacraments usher us into. That is the lesson of today’s Gospel. Like the disciples, we’re worried about how our Lord can feed us, how He can take care of us, how this Holy Supper will truly satisfy us and make a difference. And while we worry, our Lord Jesus is already blessing the bread and making sure it’s distributed.
When we hear His words, when we see His loving desire to feed us with Himself, we would be fools to absent ourselves from this altar, to do anything to cut ourselves off from this Holy Communion, to assume we can receive this Sacrament too often. Knowing that we are sinners, knowing that sin infects every breath we take, we should be crying out for the Holy Supper every time we gather in His name.
In today’s Gospel, Our Lord Jesus shows us His undying love and compassion. He says, “I have compassion on them. I will not send them away hungry. I will feed them.” And in the Holy Supper we receive this day, He keeps His pledge and promise—not just to the crowd, but also to you. Here He is, having mercy on you, showing you a compassion that surpasses human understanding. Here He is, and even though we are not worthy of His mercy, He will not send us away hungry. Here He is, feeding us with His own flesh and blood.
Let us rejoice to receive this grace of God in Christ Jesus, who invites us to His Supper. He is the Priest, the Victim, and the Feast, and He is here to feed you and give you life. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.