First Reading: Genesis 14: 18-20
In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram with these words: "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Second Reading: First Corinthians 11: 23-26
Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
Gospel: Luke 9: 11-17
Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured. As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, "Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here." He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves." They replied, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people." Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty." They did so and made them all sit down. Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.
Today is the feast of Corpus Christi, a time to reflect upon the fact that Our Lord remains with us bodily in the form of the Eucharist. Given that, the question emerges of why we have this passage from Luke as the Gospel.
Well, in the first place, the multiplication of the loaves is a foreshadowing of the Eucharist (in John’s Gospel it leads directly into the Bread of Life Discourse). But more specifically, what it foreshadows is the way that Jesus will, in a sense, multiply Himself. Now, obviously there aren’t multiple Jesuses running around, despite what some people seem to think. But, through the Eucharist, Jesus makes Himself present to us in a new and expanded way.
When He was in the Flesh, Our Lord could only be in one place at a time. He could only minister to so many people, just like a piece of bread can only feed a certain number of people. That was simply the nature of His bodily existence. But in the Eucharist Christ remains present to us, and in an even more intense and intimate manner, but He is unlimited. He can be bodily present wherever the faithful gather. In multiplying the loaves, Jesus is foreshadowing the way He will distribute Himself among His followers.
In this it is also significant that Jesus doesn’t just create enough bread to satisfy, but more than enough, so that there is a huge amount left over. In the Eucharist, He isn’t just present to us as He was on that hilltop, but present in an even closer and more immediate way. To put it bluntly, His presence ‘overflows’ just like the loaves and the fish.