Friends, our Gospel today tells about the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus instructs the crowd to recline, and they do so on the grass. Taking the loaves and dried fish, Jesus makes a meal that satisfies the enormous crowd. They are hungry, tired, and worn out from their exertions, and Jesus gives them sustenance for the day.
For Thomas Aquinas, the great metaphor for the Eucharist is sustenance, food for the journey. The Eucharist is daily food, sustenance for the journey, nourishment to get us through the day to day. How effective would we be if we never ate, or ate only on special occasions and in a festive environment? Not very. So, in the spiritual life, we must eat and drink or we will not have strength.
Is this just meant in some vague symbolic way? No, rather in a vividly analogical way. For just as the body needs physical nourishment, the spirit needs spiritual nourishment, and there is no getting around this law.
Now think of how many Catholics are absent from the Mass and the Eucharist and confession or even daily prayer. This spiritual malnourishment is one of the biggest problems facing our Church.