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20th Sunday B

After the heavy rains last week, our maintenance boy found a hapless but very colorful fledgling, a young bird, separated from its mother. Concerned that it must be so hungry but not knowing what species it was, they set out to lure it with seeds, fruits, grains and finally, fish.  It turned out to be a kingfisher!
If we show compassion on animals by being solicitous for their nourishment, all the more so do we pamper fellow human beings with food. Filipinos show love through food, thus the constant greeting:  Kumain ka na? (Have you eaten?).  We remind women that the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  And we simply love to entertain our friends with food and drink.  In last week’s episode of massive flooding, people came to the rescue of the victims by sending provisions of food and water.
The readings today show how lavishly the Lord sets his table for his beloved people.  The description in Proverbs shows Lady Wisdom carefully preparing a banquet for guests.  Our responsorial psalm invites us to “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”  In the gospel, we return to the theme of food, this time Jesus being more specific:  whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day.”
It is amazing to realize that the Lord is really concerned about our nourishment.  Jesus is willing to give himself totally so that we may live.  It was not enough that he gave up his body to physically be sacrificed on the cross for our salvation.  In the period after his return to the Father, Jesus will continue to provide the food that will sustain us in our daily journey of life.
This clearly happens in the Eucharist.  This sacrament is not just a ritual but a liturgy, a real celebration of joy and thanksgiving! Jesus is with us every time we gather in his name. Here, we eat his flesh, not physical but mystical, in the form of the consecrated bread.  Here, we drink his blood, again, sacramentally, through the form of the wine we offer. 
How can a small piece of bread remove hunger?  How can a few drops of blood quench thirst?  How can this bread and wine make us “remain with the Lord” and he in us? We must return to Jesus’ essential message.  His body and blood are not to be considered earthly food, temporary relief.  Yes, Jesus is concerned about our physical welfare, but more importantly, our spiritual welfare. 
Hunger is not only for material and perishable things.  Thirst is not only about physical want.  We hunger and thirst for love, forgiveness, acceptance, peace and reconciliation.  We hunger for realities the world itself cannot fully provide.  We long for eternal life, a life that begins here and now, as we live in closeness with the Lord.  The Eucharist answers this deep hunger in our heart and soul.
What a great sacrament we have in the Eucharist.  This is indeed the real food because it is an act of the greatest love of God for us who he wants to lead to fullness of life. What response can we give but gratitude as we receive It.