The story of the feeding of the 5000 appears in each of the four gospels, each of the evangelists “tweaking” the story a bit to suit their own theological concerns. Matthew, whose version we follow this weekend, emphasizes the ministerial role of the apostles in the eucharist. Matthew always shows considerable concern for church structure and the role of the apostles in the direction of the church.
In the Mass today, there is a variety of ministerial roles. We have the priest, deacons, lectors, eucharistic ministers, gift bearers, choir and servers. The sanctuary which was once the sole domain of the priest celebrant is now the locus where various functions surrounding the eucharist come into play. This all came about over a few years’ time, and now we are hardly conscious of the difference. But there is an important difference. The Mass now conveys a much more communal sense. It is the one Lord, the one Spirit, and many gifts. It is so important that these ministries be exercised well, all of them in convergence around the altar. They point to the one Christ who ultimately “blesses, breaks, and distributes”.
This all carries into life where education and new structures illustrate everyone’s participation in the life of the church, blending together as the one voice of Christ. People of every ethnic or national strain, female and male, priest and lay person, work together in building up the one body of Christ. Although we get discouraged at times, when things don’t always work that way, it is still a great time to be alive.