The people of Jesus’ time were always hungry, both for physical and spiritual food. At key times in the gospels Jesus was their source for both—and these were miraculous times.
In today’s gospel we have the classic example of the loaves and fishes. The apparent miracle was his ability to feed thousands with just a handful of food. But the true miracle was not how a few morsels of food became many, but how many souls became one with Jesus. That’s the miracle of the sacrament of communion—where a community of believers shares in one God, the source of life.
For me, St. Thomas described this miracle best: “Material food first changes into the one who eats it, and then as a consequence, restores to him his lost strength and increases his vitality. Spiritual food changes the person who eats it into itself.” So the miracle is the conversion of the consumer into Christ. That consumer is reborn as God takes residence in him. That’s the true miracle of the loaves and fishes, the last supper and even of Melchizadek’s sharing of spiritual food with Abraham to establish the rite of priesthood.
Once we receive this food from God, our faith continues to feed it to us. This maintains God’s tabernacle as a mighty fortress in which He can dwell in communion with our soul.