An Extraordinary Ministry | Friar Reflections | Fourth Sunday of Lent

Dear Parishioners,

This week I share with you a brief reflection by sacramental theologian Fr. Paul Turner on perhaps the origin of Eucharistic Ministers:

“Give them some food yourselves.” (Mk 6:37a) Jesus said. It was an extraordinary command, an impossible command. His Disciples had followed him to a deserted place, but a vast crowd still managed to find him. The crowd was hungry for God. The heart of Jesus was move with pity. But his disciples were moved with despair.

It was getting late. The disciples were probably getting hungry. They only had a snack-five loaves and two fish, not nearly enough to share with a throng. They probably didn’t have enough energy either. So that they came up with a practical suggestion and presented it to Jesus. “Dismiss them,” they said, “so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” (Mk 6:36)

It wasn’t a bad proposal. It expressed their care and concern. I made sense to the disciples under the circumstances. But Jesus-not always known for practicality-had another idea.

“Give them some food yourselves.” (Mk 6:37a)

The disciples were not just short on food. They were short on cash. “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” (Mk 6:37b) they asked. They weren’t envisioning a gourmet picnic in the desert. The size of the crowd was just enormous.

Jesus stuck to his plan. He took the little food they had, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples-not to the people. The disciples had to give them the food themselves.

And, miraculously, there was enough. (Mk 6:34-44)

This story foreshadows another miracle, the Gift of the Eucharist. Just as Jesus took, blessed, broke, and gave bread in a “deserted place,” (Mk 6:31), so he too, blessed, broke, and gave bread at the Last Supper, so the Church entrusts the Body and Blood of Christ to ministers who then give them to the faithful.

In the Church today, a Eucharistic Minister is a parishioner, technically selected by the Pastor and mandated by the Bishop, who serves, distributes, and administers the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ during Eucharist of the Mass or church service. They are referred to more accurately as “Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion” (the “ordinary” minister being the priest celebrant).

We call upon Eucharistic Ministers not only to minister the Body and Blood of Christ, but to have and maintain a strong faith, and an inclusiveness of others as the foundation for their ministry.  The ministers accomplish this by strengthening their faith from within and sharing it with the faithful at communion time.

Eucharistic Ministers are also asked to bring Holy Communion to people within the parish community who are sick and/or homebound. The experience in bringing the Body of Christ to others who cannot attend Mass due to illness or other limitations, is truly a gift from God.

Beginning with Holy Thursday this year and continuing for Sunday Mass, the friars will be bringing back the Precious Blood. This reintroduction will of course necessitate not only additional EM’s at these liturgies, but also additional training for those who are currently EM’s, and new persons who feel called to this ministry.

I will be reaching out via FlockNote to our “veteran” EM’s who would like to assist me in reviewing current practices and assist with ongoing training for all EM’s, both seasoned and new. Thank you all very much for your participation in this ministry!

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Zack Elliott, OFM