Amid today’s pandemic and vulnerability, we cling to our hope and faith for a new-normal. Such a faith story can be found in the Eucharist Miracle of Bolsena (Orvieto), Italy. Fr Peter of Praque found difficulty in believing that Christ was really present in the Eucharist and the consecrated Host. In 1263, he stopped at Bolsena while on a pilgrimage to Rome. The next day, while celebrating Mass, blood began to seep from the consecrated Host and trickled over his hands onto the altar and the corporal. He interrupted the Mass, and went to see Pope Urban IV who was then at his residence in Orvieto. The Pope listened and investigated his account; the Host and the corporal stained with blood were brought to Orvieto. Prompted by this miracle, Pope Urban IV commissioned St Thomas Aquinas to compose the proper liturgy and office in honour of the Holy Eucharist as the Body of Christ. The Pope further instituted the feast of Corpus Christi in August, 1264.
Today, this faith story is revered at the Cathedral of Orvieto, Italy. This miracle has not only strengthened the faith of Fr Peter of Praque, and believers, it affirms the greatest gift of Jesus’ very self, His Most Holy Body and Blood, and His Real Presence, to us and all believers. In the Eucharist, we are fed with Jesus’ Real Presence, the God-with-us.
In today's Gospel, Jesus performed the miracle to feed the multitude, not only with his Words and Signs, but also with food. Jesus’ heart was moved with compassion and love towards his followers: his disciples, a small boy, and a large crowd. This miracle further describes God’s generosity and love towards his followers as they filled the twelve hampers of scraps and left-overs. As human persons, we may be dismayed with our vulnerability and helplessness in our present situation or with the little we have, but this miracle is not only a story of human effort or achievement, it is also the story of faith in God’s goodness. Likewise, the prophet Elisha in the first reading worked wonders to feed a hundred men with only twenty barley loaves. This story describes how much God loves and cares for the people.
During this pandemic, it is very difficult to have a feast without considering any safe measures. Despite restrictions, we are being reminded this weekend to feast and rejoice in the gift of our faith in Jesus Christ’s real presence. St Paul in the second reading reminds us that we belong to the Body of Christ; there is one Body, one Spirit, just as we are all called into one with the same hope and faith in the person of Christ Jesus, our Lord and God; Christ is in us and we are all belong to Christ.
As we look forward to celebrate our Parish Feast Day in this Ignatian Year, we ask for the grace “to see all things new in Christ”. The wonder of any miracles is not just to satisfy our needs, but more importantly, it should strengthen our faith and change our interior-life and relationship with Jesus Christ, the God-with-us. In this Ignatian Year, we celebrate one of the greatest miracles, the life-conversion of St Ignatius after his shattered dreams at Pamplona. We also know that his conversion-journey did not happen overnight, but rather throughout Ignatius’ life-time — to know and follow Christ more closely. This is Ignatius’ faith story, and so it is with our own conversion-journey today as we seek the grace to see the faith of recognising Christ’ real presence and grow in our relationship with the person of Jesus Christ, who loves and gives Himself to us and the world. Where have you seen and experienced the miracle of faith today?
- Fr Agustinus Tanudjaja, SJ