Memorial of St. John Neumann, bishop
(I John 4:7-10; Mark 6:34-44)
A fascinating mural covers the wall of the dining room wall in the Dominican priory serving the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Where one expects an image of the Last Supper, there is a painting of Jesus feeding the immense crowd in the gospel today. The substitution suggests that the feeding, depicted in today’s gospel, also represents the beginning of the Eucharist.
Although the poor enjoyed a satisfying meal, this passage does more than illustrate Jesus’ call to feed the hungry. It reminds its listeners that they have him to share with any and everyone as spiritual nourishment. He is the bread of life on which the world might grow spiritually. His words resonate deep in the soul to move beyond self-interest. The sacrament of his body and blood strengthens the mind and will to make sacrifices for the good of the community.
Heard at the beginning of January, this gospel assures us that Jesus will directly provide for our needs throughout the year. We will lack neither bread nor desire that makes our lives not just happy but efficacious.