Cardinal Hume recalled a incident that happened when he visited Ethiopia during the 1984-85 famine. He was taken to a settlement in the hills where people were waiting for food that was unlively to arrive. As he got out of the helicopter, a small boy, dressed in just a loincloth, came up and took his hand. The whole time that the cardinal was there, the little child wouldn’t let go of his hand.
As they went around, the boy made two gestures: with one hand he pointed to his mouth, and with the other he took the cardinal’s hand and rubbed it against his cheek.
The Cardinal said later, “ Here was an orphan boy who was lost & starving. Yet by two simple gestures he indicated our two fundamental needs or hungers. With one gesture he showed me his hunger for food, and with the other, his hunger for love. I have never forgotten that incident and to this day, I wonder whether that child is still alive. I remember that as I boarded the helicopter, he stood at looked at me reproachfully”.
Today’s first reading says “ A human being doesn’t live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. “ We need ordinary bread, our most basic necessity. But bread only nourishes half of us; we have a spiritual side too that needs nourishment, Even the little starving child realised that.
In the Eucharist we are nourished with the food of God’s word, and in Holy Communion we are nourished with the food of eternal life. In the Eucharistic banquet we have nourishment for our minds, hearts and spirits and we experience the abiding presence of Christ with us. Not as a vague memory of a person who lived long ago, but as a real, life-giving presence that transforms us.
By eating the food of the Eucharist, we are nourished, and like Christ are able to nourish others.