Usually, when entrepreneurs try to sell something, they have a “free lunch” for potential customers in order to make them subsequent buyers. Presumably, the “free lunch” is the come-on.
In the Gospel for the feast of Corpus Christi (Luke 9:11-19), Jesus wound up giving a “free lunch” to the people present, but it was not a come-on to buy anything, but, rather, to provide a significant lesson. And the lesson was to understand the importance of bread for the nourishment of life.
The story went something like this. Jesus was preaching to many people in a relatively deserted place. His disciples realized that it was close to lunch time, so they asked Jesus to let them go in order to find food for themselves.
Instead, Jesus said to the disciples, “Feed them yourselves.” No doubt, they were surprised at this. In effect, they said, “All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish.” According to the text there were several thousand people there.
But Jesus had a plan. He had all the people sit down, and then asked for the loaves and fish. Then he did something curious. He blessed the bread, broke it, and had the disciples give the bread to the people.
What was curious was the similarity of the pattern of: bless-break-give the bread. Interestingly enough this tripartite pattern was used at the last supper. “While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it, he broke it, and gave to his disciples, and said, ‘Take and Eat. This is my body.'” (Matthew 26:26)
Consequently, we can surmise that whenever the pattern of bless-break-give appears in the New Testament, we can legitimately assume that the pattern is within a Eucharistic content. In fact, this pattern is used in the Mass today. During the Offertory, the bread and wine are blessed. During the Consecration, the host is broken and part of it is placed in the chalice. At Communion time, the Eucharist is given to those who come to receive.
One of the things that we can learn from the day’s Gospel is to appreciate the importance of the nourishment of bread. When we are physically hungry, bread nourishes us. When we are spiritually hungry the Eucharist can nourish us. Temptation often makes us spiritually weak. The Lord knows that we can use all he help that we can get, even if it means taking advantage of this “free lunch” every time that we go to Mass.