After all the acclaim of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, in the height of his fame and glory, Jesus went away.
In his homily on November 18, 2018, at Mass for World Day of the Poor in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis reminded us where he went – and why. He made three key points, the first of which is that Christ “leaves”.
“In all of this, Jesus goes against the current: first, he leaves behind success, and then tranquillity,” Francis explained. “He teaches us the courage to leave: to leave behind the success that swells the heart and the tranquillity that deadens the soul…To go where? To God by praying, and to those in need by loving. These are the true treasures in life: God and our neighbor.”
Second, Jesus reassures his disciples. They wanted to say and bask in all the glory of the miracle, but he sent them off. And while they were in the boat in rough seas, he came to them walking on the water.
“Like the disciples, we will realize that once he is on board, the winds die down (cf. v. 32) and there can be no shipwreck,” the Holy Father said. “With him on board, there will never be a shipwreck! Only with Jesus do we then become capable of offering reassurance. How greatly we need people who can comfort others not with empty words, but with words of life, with deeds of life.”
Third, Jesus reaches out. In the Gospel, he reaches out to Peter, who is desperately asking for his help.
“We can put ourselves in Peter’s place: we are people of little faith, pleading for salvation,” Francis said. “We are wanting in true life and we need the outstretched hand of the Lord to draw us out from evil. This is the beginning of faith: to cast off the pride that makes us feel self-sufficient and to realize that we are in need of salvation.”
The Pope reminded the congregation that “the Lord stretches out his hand, freely and not out of duty. And so it must be with us.” He urged the people to reach out to others, to those in need, to those expressing the cry of the poor. And he pointed to the many places that cry can be heard today.
“The cry of the poor: it is the stifled cry of the unborn, of starving children, of young people more used to the explosion of bombs than happy shouts of the playground. It is the cry of the elderly, cast off and abandoned to themselves. It is the cry of all those who face the storms of life without the presence of a friend. It is the cry of all those forced to flee their homes and native land for an uncertain future. It is the cry of entire peoples, deprived even of the great natural resources at their disposal. It is the cry of every Lazarus who weeps while the wealthy few feast on what, in justice, belongs to all. Injustice is the perverse root of poverty. The cry of the poor daily grows louder but is heard less and less. Every day that cry gets louder, but every day heard less, drowned out by the din of the rich few, who grow ever fewer and more rich.”