At midday on July 26, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He commented on the day’s Gospel passage, which narrates “the great sign of the multiplication of the loaves”, when Jesus finds Himself on the shores of the Sea of Galilee surrounded by the multitude, drawn by the “signs He was performing on the sick”.
Francis remarked that God’s merciful power acts in Christ, curing every malady of the body and the spirit. But He is not merely a healer, He is also a teacher; He teaches from the “cathedra” represented by the mount and tests His disciples, asking them how they can give food to all the people present. The apostle Philip makes a rapid calculation, confirming that by organizing a collection they could raise at most two hundred denari to buy bread, which would not be sufficient to feed five thousand people.
“The disciples reason in ‘market’ terms, but Jesus substitutes the logic of buying with the logic of giving”, explained the Pope. “And at this point Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, presents a boy who offers all he has: five loaves and two fishes, which are certainly not enough for so many people, Andrew says”. But this was exactly what Jesus was expecting, and so He tells the disciples to ask the people to be seated, takes the loaves and fishes, blesses them, gives thanks to the Father and distributes them.
“These gestures anticipate those of the Last Supper, which gives Jesus’ bread its truest meaning. God’s bread is Jesus Himself. Making Communion with Him, we receive His life in us and become children of the heavenly Father and brothers among ourselves. In this communion we encounter Jesus, truly alive and risen! Participating in the Eucharist means entering into Jesus’ logic, the logic of gratuity, of sharing. And poor though we may be, we can all give something. ‘Making Communion’ means drawing from Christ the grace that makes us capable of sharing what we are and what we have with others”.
The crowd is astonished by the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, “but the gift that Jesus offers is the fullness of life for famished mankind. Jesus satisfies not only material hunger, but also the most profound hunger for the meaning of life: our hunger for God. Faced with suffering, loneliness, poverty and the difficulties of so many people, what can we do? Complaining resolves nothing, but we can offer what little we have, like the boy in the Gospel. We all surely have a little time, some kind of talent, some kind of expertise to offer. Who among us does not have their ‘five loaves and two fishes’? We all have it! If we are willing to place it in the Lord’s hands, it would be enough to bring to the world a little more love, peace, justice and above all, joy. How much we are in need of joy in the world! God is capable of multiplying our little gestures of solidarity and letting us participate in His gift.”