FR MICHAEL BIBLICAL IMAGERY
(Fr Michael Boakye Yeboah: Vice Rector of St Gregory Seminary, Kumasi-Ghana)
Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine and submitted it to Abraham in reverence. The gesture of Melchizedek comes in two-fold: it is a religious gesture and at the same time a humanitarian gesture. But the two-dimensions can be united to serve as a spiritual prefiguration of Christ as the Bread of Life.
As a religious gesture, the priest Melchizedek offered the sacrifice of bread and wine as an act of thanksgiving to God the creator of heaven and earth for delivering Abram from the hands of his foes. This act was the prefiguration of the paschal event whereby Jesus offered himself as the new “bread and wine” to safeguard and protect God’s children from the devil and all his agents. Because of the protection we get whenever we partake in the Eucharistic celebration, we attend Mass with a mind of thanksgiving to God. Like Melchizedek of old, all priests are meant to offer sacrifice for the safety and well-being of God’s children. As Melchizedek willingly served Abram, so also every priest should be ready and willing to serve God’s people. We should note that whenever we partake in the Eucharistic celebration, we partake in our own salvation from sin and evil. That reminds me of a story a priest told me some years ago. He is one priest who does not believe in the existence of satanic forces and agents likes witches and occults. So, one day, according to him, during his homily in a village church, he made his views on witches and occults known to the people. But right after Mass, one of the parishioners walked to him and said: “Father, you are so blessed that it is because of the protection you get from the Mass that is why satanic agents can’t come close to you, either than that I would have shown you where power lies… your God is protecting you so be careful with your utterances.”
The priest told me that though he had been a priest for many years, that was the day he trusted in the power of the Mass. I would like to assure you that God will always protect you. Never miss any opportunity to partake in the Eucharistic meal. That is why, as a priest I am so sad that some Catholics do not take seriously their daily participation of Holy Mass. It is highly recommended that a good Catholic should start his day with Holy Mass and reception of Holy Communion.
The act of Melchizedek also comes with a humanitarian dimension. This dimension is felt and understood when one reads today’s Gospel account. After the people had been with Jesus the whole day, it was the desire of his disciples to dismiss them for them to fend for themselves but Jesus instructed his disciples to find something for them to eat. Though the disciples were able to find only five loaves and two fish, Jesus was able to multiple them to feed the multitude. Never think that you have too little to give because your little may be the plenty of another person.
Jesus did not only come to save us from evil through his sacrifice on the cross but as the Bread of Life, he is always ready to feed those who are hungry. It is not enough for one to partake in the sacrifice of the Mass but it is full of blessing for one to show humanitarian care to the poor we congregate with at Mass. There are so many humanitarian groups around that one can show his/her kindness to the poor through them. Please note that whenever you want to throw away food in the dustbin remember that some people have nothing to eat.
In the first reading we are told that after the religious act of Melchizedek, Abram shown his gratitude to God by offering his tithe (tenth of everything he owns) but I am not in favour of those who give tithes to priests and pastors as if tithes are for priests. A good priest whenever he receives tithes should direct them to care for the poor and other humanitarian needs of the church.
Whenever you partake in the sacrifice of the Mass; be fully convinced that you are welcoming Christ who will be your protector but we should also not lose sight of the kindness we are called to show to the poor who congregate with us at Mass. May God who love cheerful givers bless you abundantly. OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP PRAY FOR US.