Pope Francis on July 29, 2018, addressed the gospel for the day, the miracle of the loaves and fishes from the sixth chapter of John. But rather than focusing on the “miraculous” aspect, he talked of the compassion of a boy and asked us to do the same.
His remarks came before praying the noonday Angelus with a crowd of pilgrims estimated at 25,000 in St. Peter’s Square.
Looking out on the great crowd that had following him near the Lake of Tiberias, Jesus asked the Apostle Philip how they could buy enough bread to feed so many. Of course, Philip had no answer, but the Apostle Andrew pointed out a boy who had five loaves of bread and two fish.
“This lad was good! Courageous, he also looked at the crowd and looked at his five loaves, and said: ‘I have this: if they are useful, they are available.'” the Holy Father explained. “This lad makes us think . . . What courage . . . young people are like this; they have courage. We must help them to take forward this courage. Yet Jesus ordered His disciples to have the people sit down, then He took those loaves and those fish, gave thanks to the Father and distributed them (Cf. v. 11), and all were able to have as much food as they wanted. They all ate what they wanted.”
The boy had compassion on the hungry crowd and gave all that he had. He cooperates in the work of the Lord.
“The episode springs from a concrete fact: the people are hungry and Jesus involves His disciples in satisfying this hunger,” the Pope continued. “This is the concrete fact. Jesus didn’t limit Himself to give the crowds this — He offered His Word, His consolation, His salvation, finally His life –, but He also did this: He took care of food for the body.”
Pope Francis concludes by reminding the faithful in the square that after the crowd was fed, the scraps and leftovers were gathered. Nothing should be wasted – and Francis encourages us to do the same.
“Let each one of us think: the food that’s left over at lunch, at dinner, where does it go?” Francis asked. “In my home, what’s done with this leftover food? Is it thrown out?
“No. If you have this habit, I give you advice: talk with your grandparents who lived after the War and ask them what they did with leftover food. Never throw away leftover food. It’s re-heated or given to someone who can eat it, who is in need. Never throw away leftover food. This is advice but also an examination of conscience: what is done at home with leftover food?”