Sacrificial hosts

by Fr. Jeff

It’s a routine part of the liturgy for the priest. During the Agnus Dei, we divide the consecrated hosts into the different patens before communion.

As I picked up the hosts, my mind and my heart turned to the people in the pews.

“When is God able to do the greatest works of our lives?” I asked in my homily. “When we are in the midst of our greatest suffering.”

To fully appreciate the feeding of the five-thousand, it is necessary to understand the context. Jesus sent the Apostles on a mission to preach the Good News (Mark 6:7-13). Then, they returned and reported all that they had done (Mark 6:30). Mark tell us that they were simply exhausted from their journey, so Jesus invites them to a quiet place to rest and be re-created (Mark 6:31-32). But when they disembarked from the boat, they were greeted by a crowd of over 5,000 people: not exactly the Apostles’ idea of rest. It doesn’t seem they were happy about it, judging from their questioning (Mark 6:37).

The Apostles were tired. They were exhausted. They simply wanted to be left alone.

But You had a much deeper mission. Seeing the sheep without a shepherd, You asked the Apostles to go beyond their own wants and desires. Give to the point that you can’t give anymore.

Then keep giving.

And it is then, only after they have given absolutely everything, that You feed the multitude by Your providence with the simple gifts of bread and fish.

Like the Apostles, You ask us to give everything. It’s only in that moment of weakness that You can truly transform our simple gifts into something far beyond what our imaginations can perceive.

Holding those hosts in my hand, You reminded me what I was holding: the frustrations of my people. I was holding the exhaustion of families, the completely stretched hearts of the Church. I was holding the gifts which they had offered to You––gifts that you had accepted and transformed into something far greater.

Yourself.

You give us Your very self as the reward

As Your priest, I was privileged to hold in my hands the hearts of Your people, the lives of Your people, the daily struggles of Your people––the true sacrifice accepted by You. I was holding,

sacrificial hosts.