Benedict XVI: Christ is attentive to material needs —but he wants to give us much more…
(CUSA) – Reflecting on today’s Gospel, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the miracles that God does for his people are not just for the present but for the future.
If God help us today, how do we help someone else tomorrow? —Ed.
ANGELUS OF POPE BENEDICT XVI
SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This Sunday’s Gospel describes the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves that Jesus worked for a great throng of people who had followed him to listen to him and to be healed of various illnesses (cf. Mt 14:14).
As evening fell the disciples suggested to Jesus that he send the crowds away so that they might take some refreshment. But the Lord had something else in mind: “You give them something to eat” (Mt 14:16). However they had “only five loaves… and two fish”.
Jesus’ subsequent action evokes the sacrament of the Eucharist: “He looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds” (Mt 14:19).
The miracle consists in the brotherly sharing of a few loaves which, entrusted to the power of God, not only sufficed for everyone but enough was left over to fill 12 baskets.
The Lord asked this of the disciples so that it would be they who distributed the bread to the multitude; in this way he taught and prepared them for their future apostolic mission: in fact, they were to bring to all the nourishment of the Word of life and of the sacraments.
In this miraculous sign the incarnation of God and the work of redemption are interwoven. Jesus, in fact, “went ashore” from the boat to meet the men and women (cf. Mt 14:14).
St Maximus the Confessor said that the Word of God made himself present for our sake, by taking flesh, derived from us and conformed to us in all things save sin, in order to expose us to his teaching with words and examples suitable for us”.
Here the Lord offers us an eloquent example of his compassion for people. Christ is attentive to material needs but he wished to give more, because man always “hungers for more, he needs more” (Jesus of Nazareth).
God’s love is present in the bread of Christ; in the encounter with him “we feed on the living God himself, so to speak, we truly eat the ‘bread from Heaven’” (ibid. p. 268).
Dear friends, in the Eucharist Jesus also makes us witnesses of God’s compassion towards all our brothers and sisters. The Eucharistic mystery thus gives rise to a service of charity towards neighbor.
St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus whom the Church is commemorating today, also bore witness to this. Indeed Ignatius chose to live “finding God in all things, loving him in all creatures”.
Let us entrust our prayers to the Virgin Mary, so that she may open our hearts to compassion for our neighbour and to fraternal sharing.