Today's Gospel (cf. Jn6.1 to 15) presents the story of the multiplication of loaves and fish. Seeing the large crowd that had followed him near the lake of Tiberias, Jesus addressed the Apostle Philip and asked: "Where can we buy bread for them to have food?" (V. 5). In fact, the little money that Jesus and the apostles possess is not enough to feed that multitude. And here Andrea, another of the Twelve, leads to Jesus a boy who provides everything he has: five loaves and two fish; but certainly - says Andrea - they are not sufficient for that crowd (see verse 9). Bravo this guy! Courageous. He too saw the crowd, and saw his five loaves. He says: "I have this: if needed, I am available". This boy makes us think ... That courage ... Young people are like that, they have courage. We must help them carry on this courage. Yet Jesus orders the disciples to make people sit, then he takes those breads and those fishes, he gives thanks to the Father and distributes them (see verse 11), and everyone can have food to satiety. Everyone ate what they wanted.
With this Gospel passage, the liturgy leads us not to look away from Jesus who, last Sunday, in the Gospel of Mark, seeing "a great crowd, had compassion on them" (6:34). Even that boy of the five loaves understood this compassion, and he says: "Poor people! I have this ... ". Compassion led him to offer what he had. In fact, today John shows us again Jesus attentive to the primary needs of people. The episode springs from a concrete fact: people are hungry and Jesus involves his disciples so that this hunger is satisfied. This is the concrete fact. To the crowds, Jesus did not limit himself to giving this - he offered his Word, his consolation, his salvation, and finally his life - but he certainly did this too: he took care of the food for the body. And we, his disciples, we can not pretend anything. Only by listening to the simplest demands of the people and by standing next to their concrete existential situations can one be heard when one speaks of higher values.
God's love for humanity hungry for bread, for freedom, for justice, for peace, and above all for his divine grace, never fails. Jesus continues today to feed, to make himself a living and consoling presence, and he does it through us. Therefore, the Gospel invites us to be available and industrious, like that boy who realizes he has five loaves and says: "I give this, then you will see ...". Faced with the cry of hunger - all sorts of "hunger" - of so many brothers and sisters in every part of the world, we can not remain detached and calm spectators. The proclamation of Christ, bread of eternal life, requires a generous commitment of solidarity for the poor, the weak, the last, the defenseless. This action of proximity and charity is the best verification of the quality of our faith, both on a personal level and on a community level.
Then, at the end of the story, Jesus, when everyone was satisfied, Jesus told the disciples to collect the advanced pieces, so that nothing would be lost. And I would like to offer you this sentence from Jesus: "Collect the advanced pieces, so that nothing is lost" (v. 12). I think of people who are hungry and how much advanced food we throw ... Each of us thinks: the food that comes to lunch, to dinner, where does it go? At home, what do you do with the leftovers? Do you throw it away? No. If you have this habit, I'll give you some advice: talk to your grandparents who lived after the war, and ask them what they did with old food. Never throw away old food. It refers to or gives to those who can eat it, to those who need it. Never throw away the leftover food. This is a suggestion and also an examination of conscience: what do you do at home with food that is left over?
Let us pray to the Virgin Mary, because the programs dedicated to development, food, solidarity prevail in the world, and not those of hatred, armaments and war.
After the blessing:
And do not forget two things: an image, an icon, and a sentence, a question. The icon of the brave young man who gives the little he has to feed a great multitude. Have courage, always. And the sentence, which is a question, an examination of conscience: what do you do at home with the leftover food? Thank you!
COLLECT PRAYER FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY
O God, protector of those who hope in you,
without whom nothing has firm foundation,
nothing is holy,
bestow in abundance your mercy upon us
and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide,
we may use the good things that pass in such a way
as to hold fast even now to those that ever endure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
GOSPEL READING: JOHN 6:1-15
ANGELUS ADDRESS BY POPE FRANCIS
29TH JULY 2018, ST PETER'S SQUARE, ROME