A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 8:1-10
In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, Jesus summoned the disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.” His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?” Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also. They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets. There were about four thousand people.
He dismissed the crowd and got into the boat with his disciples and came to the region of Dalmanutha.
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.”
I can just imagine being in the crowd and listening to Jesus for three days. The people’s souls were being fed with the Word and they could not pull themselves away because the desire to be filled with the holy Word of God was greater than anything else in their life. They put their lives on hold and were spellbound by the teachings of Jesus. How incredible it must have been to hear the Gospel from the true source of light. And unbeknownst to the crowd, the fullness of His salvific plan is revealed here. Jesus multiplies the loaves of bread as a prelude to the Eucharist.
For three days the people ate what they had and then ran out of food. The number three has great significance in the Hebrew language. Here the number is used to describe the crowd’s spiritual condition and emphasize the importance of this miracle, as they received bread broken by the hands of Jesus. The number three means completeness, new life and harmony. Three signifies a divine perfection and infers the mighty works of God.
Today, I believe Jesus’s heart is still “moved with pity” for those who are hungry and thirst for God. Jesus takes the meager meal of bread and wine and transforms it to fulfill the hunger and thirst of our souls with His own body and blood. Each time we receive Him, we are forever changed in some mystical way. Each time He enters within, we become more like Him.
Let us not forget to prepare ourselves to receive this precious gift of Jesus by allowing ourselves to hunger for Him. In receiving our Lord, we will have the energy and stamina to return home, even for those who have to travel a great distance.