Today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles reveals how vehemently Saul persecuted the fledgling Christian church. Its tenets were so far divergent from what he had observed as a devout Jew. Saul even “entered house after house, dragged men and women out, and threw them into jail” (Acts 8: 3).
Yet the members of the communities dispersed by this persecution went about preaching the word. They indeed helped to fulfill the words of Psalm 66: “Let all the earth cry out with joy to the Lord!” The crowds listened to what the disciples taught and when they saw miracles performed, their fervor “rose to fever pitch.”
In the verses immediately before today’s Gospel reading, the disciples were asking for signs and wonders so they could put their faith in Jesus. Jesus answered that the bread from the heavens came, not from Moses, but from God and this bread gives life to the world. They pleaded with him: “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus explained to them and to each of us that thirst and hunger are satisfied only in him. Just as he told the Woman at the Well, his bread is to do the will of him who sent him and his wine to complete his work.
In this way Jesus taught that the Body of Christ is not merely the Eucharist he blessed and broke for us. It is the entire cosmos and the life blood flowing through it is his love. All created beings are called to love and serve one another and to treat all of creation with dignity, respect and care. Each element on earth is part of the Body of Christ and it is God’s will that Jesus should lose nothing of what God has entrusted to his care. So we are called to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty. That is not simply material food and drink, but the love that can only come from the heart of Jesus.
When the eyes of our hearts are opened to this mystery, we can see Jesus in our interactions with one another. In those ordinary moments we can recognize him in the breaking of the bread.