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Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 26 July 2015


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning.

This Sunday’s Gospel presents the great sign of the multiplication of the loaves, in the account of John the Evangelist (6:1-15). Jesus is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and is surrounded by “a multitude”, who were attracted by “the signs which he did on those who were diseased” (v. 2). Acting in Him is the merciful power of God, who heals every evil of the body and spirit. But Jesus is not only healer, he is also teacher: indeed, he goes up into the hills and sits, with the typical attitude of a teacher when he teaches: he goes up to that natural “pulpit” created by his Heavenly Father. At this point Jesus, who fully understands what he is about to do, puts his disciples to the test. How can they feed all these people? Philip, one of the Twelve, quickly calculates: by taking up a collection, they might collect 200 denarii at most, which would not be enough to feed 5,000 people.

The disciples reason in “marketing” terms, but Jesus substitutes the logic of buying with another logic, the logic of giving. It is here that Andrew, one of the Apostles, the brother of Simon Peter, presents a young lad who offers everything he has: five loaves and two fish; but of course, Andrew says, they are nothing for that multitude (cf. v. 9). Jesus actually expecting this. He orders the disciples to make the people sit down, then he takes those loaves and those fish, gives thanks to the Father and distributes them (cf. v. 11). These acts prefigure the Last Supper, which gives the bread of Jesus its truest significance. The bread of God is Jesus Himself. By receiving Him in Communion, we receive his life within us and we become children of the Heavenly Father and brothers among ourselves. By receiving communion we meet Jesus truly living and risen! Taking part in the Eucharist means entering into the logic of Jesus, the logic of giving freely, of sharing. And as poor as we are, we all have something to give. “To receive Communion” means to draw from Christ the grace which enables us to share with others all we are and all we have.

The crowd is struck by the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves; but the gift Jesus offers is the fullness of life for a hungering mankind. Jesus satiates not only material hunger, but the most profound one, the hunger for the meaning of life, the hunger for God. Before the suffering, loneliness, poverty and difficulties of so many people, what can we ourselves do? Complaining doesn’t resolve anything, but we can offer the little that we have, like the lad in the Gospel. We surely have a few hours of time, certain talents, some skills.... Who among us doesn’t have “five loaves and two fish” of his own? We all have them! If we are willing to place them in the Lord’s hands, they will be enough to bring about a little more love, peace, justice and especially joy in the world. How necessary joy is in the world! God is capable of multiplying our small acts of solidarity and allowing us to share in his gift.

May our prayer sustain the common commitment that no one may lack the heavenly Bread which gives eternal life and the basic necessities for a dignified life, and may it affirm the logic of sharing and love. May the Virgin Mary accompany us with her maternal intercession.

After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, today registration opens for the 31st World Youth Day, which will be held next year in Poland. I wanted to open the enrolment personally and for this reason I asked a girl and a boy to stand next to me, so they would be with me at the moment that the registration opens, here before you. There, on this electronic device I have now enrolled in the Day as a pilgrim. Being celebrated during the Year of Mercy, this Day will be, in a certain sense, a jubilee of youth, called to reflect on the theme “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7). I invite the young people of the world to experience this pilgrimage either by going to Krakow, or by taking part in this moment of grace in their own communities.

In a few days it will be the second anniversary of the abduction of Fr Paolo Dall’Oglio in Syria. I address an earnest and urgent appeal for the release of this esteemed religious man. I cannot forget the Orthodox Bishops also abducted in Syria and all the other people who have been seized in areas of conflict. I hope for the renewed commitment of the competent local and international Authorities, in order that freedom may soon be restored to these brothers of ours. With affection and joining in their suffering, we wish to remember them in prayer. Let us all pray together to Our Lady: Hail Mary....

I greet all of you, pilgrims from Italy and from other countries. I greet the international pilgrimage of the Sisters of St Felix, the faithful of Salamanca, the youth of Brescia who are performing service to the poor at the Caritas of Rome’s soup kitchen, and the young people from Ponte San Giovanni, Perugia.

Today, 26 July, the Church remembers Sts Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and thus, Jesus’ grandparents. On this occasion, I would like to greet all grandmothers and grandfathers, thanking them for their valuable presence in families and for the new generations. For all grandparents who are living, but also for those who are watching us from Heaven, let’s salute them with a round of applause....

I wish everyone a happy Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch. Arrivederci!


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