Most of us have a favourite possession. For many men it’s their car or their bike, or perhaps an expensive suit. A woman’s favourite possession might be an expensive pair of shoes, or maybe her engagement ring; and sometimes people use the cost of a gift as an indication of the value of the love of the person who gave it. You know the kind of thing: the more expensive the diamond ring, the more a girl’s fiancée must love her.
One of my most treasured possessions is a little home-made letter. On the front it says “daddy” and on the back I’ve written the date. It says “May 1979”. That’s 40 years ago. I was relatively young then, and my son, who wrote it, was just six. Inside the envelope there’s a small piece of paper, which just says;
“I love you”
James didn’t have much to give away when he was six, but what he gave me was priceless. It was all that he could give me. It was an expression of his love. This letter represented everything that he had, and when he gave it to me, it bore much fruit. I received what he gave me with love, and over the years that love has been multiplied.
We’ve just heard a very similar story. Some of the men who were following Jesus gave him all that they had; a few fish and a bit of bread. They gave it to him with love and Jesus accepted it with love, multiplied that love and gave it back to their benefit and the good of all those hungry people who were with them.
Today we celebrate a special day which we call “Corpus Christi”. Those are Latin words which mean “The Body of Christ”. And this celebration has a lot in common with the story of the loaves and fish.
The bread and the wine which we use in the Mass represent the work of our hands. They represent our lives, and when we offer them properly to God at the altar, small though these gifts might be, God accepts them as tokens of our love. He accepts them, blesses them, breaks them up and gives them back to us as the very life of Jesus himself.
Isn’t that amazing? When we give ourselves to Christ in love, he gives our lives back to us transformed by his real presence; a presence of love which will continue to grow and multiply in and through us; a presence which joins us to him in a love which will never die.
And you know, I can understand this a bit better because of the love which a little boy showed me 37 years ago.