At 12pm today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of the study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Here below is an English translation of his words introducing the Marian prayer, and his address that followed:
Dear brothers and sisters,
On this Sunday, the Gospel presents us with the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mt. 14, 13-21). Jesus fulfilled this along the Sea of Galilee, in an isolated area where he has retired to with his disciples after learning of the death of John the Baptist. But so many people followed him and reached him; and Jesus, seeing them, felt compassion for them and healed the sick until the evening. Now the disciples, concerned about the late hour, advised him to dismiss the crowd so that they could go into the villages and buy food to eat. But Jesus calmly replies: “Give them some food yourselves.” (Mt. 14,16); and he had them bring five loaves and two fishes, he blessed them, and began to break them and give them to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate until they were satisfied and there was even [food] leftover.
In this event, we can grasp three messages. The first is compassion. In front of the crowd that surrounds him and – so to say – “do not leave him in peace”, Jesus does not react with irritation. He doesn’t say, “But these people bother me!” No, No. He reacts with a feeling of compassion, because He knows that they do not seek him out of curiosity, but out of need. But beware: compassion, that which Jesus feels, is not simply to feel pity. It is much more! It means sympathy, that is, to empathize with the suffering of others to the point of taking it upon oneself! That is how Jesus is! He suffers together with us, He suffers with us, He suffers for us.
And the sign of this compassion are the numerous healings he performed. Jesus teaches us to place the needs of the poor before our own. Our needs, even if legitimate, will never be as urgent as of those of the poor who do not have the necessary [things] to live. We often speak of the poor, but when we speak of the poor, do we feel that man, that woman, those children, do not have enough to live on? They do not have [food] to eat, they do not have clothes, they do not have access to medicine, even the children who do not have the chance to go to school? And for this, our needs, even if legitimate, will never be as urgent as those of the poor, who lack the necessities to live on.
The second message is sharing. First compassion, that which Jesus felt, and sharing. It is helpful to compare the reaction of the disciples, in front of people who were tired and hungry, with that of Jesus. They are different. The disciples think that it is better to dismiss them, so that they can go get food. Jesus says instead: “Give them some food yourselves.” Two different reactions, that reflect two opposing logics: the disciples reason according to the world, through which everyone must think of themselves. They react as if to say: “Fend for yourselves!”
Jesus thinks instead according to the logic of God, which is that of sharing. How many times, we turn the other side so as not to see the brothers in need. And this, looking the other way, is a polite way of say with white gloves on: “Fend for yourselves.” And this is not of Jesus. This is selfishness!
If He has dismissed the crowd, so many people would be left without eating. Instead, those few loaves and fishes, shared and blessed by God, were enough for everyone. Attention: this is not a magic trick, it is a “sign”! A sign that invites to have faith in God, the providential Father, who does not let us miss “our daily bread”, if we know how to share it as brothers! Compassion, Sharing.
Finally a third message: the miracle of the loaves foretells the Eucharist. It is seen in the gesture of Jesus who “said the blessing” (v.19) before breaking the bread and distributing it to the people. It is the same gesture that Jesus will do at the Last Supper, when He institutes a perpetual memorial of His redeeming Sacrifice. In the Eucharist, Jesus does not give a piece of bread, but the bread of eternal life, He gives Himself, offering Himself to the Father out of love for us. But we should go to the Eucharist with those feelings of Jesus, that is, compassion and with that desire of Jesus: sharing. Whoever goes to the Eucharist without having compassion for the needy and without sharing, is not well with Jesus.
Compassion, sharing, the Eucharist. This is the path that Jesus shows us in this Gospel. A path that leads us to face with fellowship the needs of this world, but that leads us beyond this world, because it comes from God and returns to Him. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Divine Providence, accompany us on this journey.
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet all of you, you who have braved the rain, the faithful of Rome and pilgrims from different countries.
I greet [the participants of] the relay race of the Stella Maris Parish in Lido di Latina, in partnership with the Vatican Gendarmerie and the Swiss Guard, and I bless the torch that will remain lit during the month of August as a sign of devotion to Our Lady.
I greet the youth from the Parish of the Sacred Heart in Pontedera, the diocese of Pisa, who have come to Rome on foot along the Via Francigena.
And I greet the scouts from the AGESCI present today, with a blessing for the thousands of Italian scouts on their way to the great national meeting in San Rossore.
And remember: compassion, sharing, Eucharist.
To all I wish a good Sunday and, please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch. Goodbye![Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]