Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ: The Little Bit

FOR THE FEAST OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST, we might recall the scene in the 6th chapter of St. John's Gospel. A very large crowd has gathered at Tiberius following Jesus at Passover time. Jesus tests the disciples as to how they will feed so many people.

Then there is verse nine, which I see in numerous bibles is translated: Andrew said (to Jesus) "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and a couple of fish, but what is that among so many people?" But the New Jerusalem Bible has, I think, a better translation, Andrew said, "Here is a small boy who has..."

In the Jerusalem Bible translation Andrew is introducing Jesus to the boy, who is small, who we might refer to as a little boy. He is not a teen-aged boy, but a little guy. Everyone has something to do with and for Jesus. Everyone has a bit to play in the story of Jesus working out his promises in and for the world today.

But there is more. This little boy has a little bit of food to share, and when it is given willingly and utterly to Jesus, a wonder happens. In the 1960's and 70's it was all the rage to say the multiplication of the food happened because Jesus convinced everyone to share what they had brought with them. That's not a miracle. Any good motivational speaker can easily convince a crowd to share. That explanation leaves heaven out of the story. Let's be bold and believe - Jesus fed thousands with a little - miraculously.

At Mass, after the Homily, Creed and Intercessions, things get under way at the altar, and a procession forms, great or small, wherein people bring gifts to the sanctuary. Of course, it is the bread and the wine. But this bread and wine is just a little bit. The hosts are small, the wine is just a sip. But the priest receives them happily and makes the simple prayers of offering:

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, through your goodness there is bread - there is wine - to offer..."

And God accepts the simple gifts and transforms them, returning them to us, having made something new of them - life-giving and overflowing in every respect. 

Some priests disagree, but I think the Offertory (or Presentation of the Gifts) is still a good time to consciously make an offering of myself - in spirit standing next to the small boy of the gospels, standing in the little bit of who I am and what I have to give to Jesus:

  • the little of bit of my energy
  • the little bit of my talent
  • the little bit of my consciousness
  • the little bit of my creative possibilities
  • the little bit of my accomplishments
  • the little bit of my time and resources
  • the little bit of my patient and understanding
  • the little bit of this day

And I may offer as well all the ways in which I have come up short - Jesus accepting it all with gratitude. But as I give it, I am to give it like the boy, gladly, willingly and with the desire to let God do with it as God pleases.

It would be a silly to imagine the boy thinking, "I hope Jesus knows what he's doing and doesn't just use my bread and fish to feed his close friends." Perhaps the boy already knew something of Jesus and stood there full of anticipation, wide-eyed and trusting, knowing he'd have an amazing story to share with his family when he got home later that day.


  1. I was always taught that the food multiplied from the sharing of the food among those present. That the miracle was that all the people gave what they had to others and shared what little they brought. I didn't know that this interpretation was a thing of the 70's. But I will still offer up what little bit I have to Jesus.

    1. To be sure, Jesus can do more than encourage people to share. And yes, while we offer the little bit that we are and have - the miracle is not that we give it (though some people are so stingy or ungenerous it may seem like their giving is a miracle) but what Jesus does with our little bit.

  2. I am adding this blog to my summer reading list. I am glad to have come across it and will spend some time looking at posts in the archive. I see some interesting topics and it will keep me busy for awhile. I am always pleased to find new ways to look at my religious beliefs and this seems like a breath of fresh air. Thanks Fr. Morris for sharing your thoughts. -L.L.

  3. I wish I could be more like that little boy, staring wide eyed and trusting. But I can only think of what it might have been like to bear witness to the teachings of Jesus. To be there for his miracles. Would I have been a believer like the little boy who offered his little bit of food? I like thinking of the boy in this way, as one who knew Jesus would do something great with his little gift.