Pope Francis made it known what is the best measure of one’s faith: how well you treat the poor.
Pope Francis’ comments on caring for the poor and needy come from his Angelus address in Saint Peter’s Square this past Sunday on the miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish.
He said that the love in which both individuals and communities treat the poor and needy, the destitute and hungry, and the ailing and weak is the best measure of faith.
“Faced with the cry of hunger – all sorts of ‘hunger’ – of so many brothers and sisters in every part of the world, we cannot remain detached and calm spectators.”
Pope Francis’ said that proclaiming Christ as the bread of eternal life also brings with it a commitment to helping others in Christ.
“The proclamation of Christ, bread of eternal life, requires a generous commitment of solidarity for the poor, the weak, the least important, 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.”
He reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, which told of the miraculous feeding of the multitude by Jesus with only a few loaves of bread and some fish – “he took care of the food for the body.”
“People are hungry, and Jesus involves his disciples so that this hunger is satisfied. We, his disciples, cannot fake 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.”
Pope Francis said that today, Christ continues to feed us today just as He fed the multitude.
“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 to feed his people, making himself a living presence, through us.”
Read the full translation of Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus below:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
You are courageous with this sun in the Square! Congratulations!
Today’s Gospel (Cf. John 6:1-15) presents the account of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish. Seeing the great crowd that had followed Him near the Lake of Tiberias, Jesus turned to the Apostle Philip and asked: “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (v.5). The few denarii that Jesus and the Apostles had, in fact, were not enough to feed that multitude. And so Andrew, another of the Twelve, led Jesus to a lad who put at their disposition everything he had: five loaves and two fish; but what are they – said Andrew – among so many? (Cf. v. 9). This lad was good! Courageous, he also looked at the crowd and looked at his five loaves, said: “I have this: if they are useful, they are available.” This lad makes us think . . . What courage . . . young people are like this; they have courage. We must help them to take forward this courage. Yet Jesus ordered His disciples to have the people sit down, then He took those loaves and those fish, gave thanks to the Father and distributed them (Cf. v. 11), and all were able to have as much food as they wanted. They all ate what they wanted.
With this Gospel page, the liturgy induces us not to look away from that Jesus who last Sunday, in Mark’s Gospel, seeing “a great throng, had compassion on them” (6:34). That lad of the five loaves also understood this compassion, and said: “Poor people! I have this . . . “Compassion led him to offer what he had. Today, in fact, John shows Jesus again attentive to the people’s primary needs. The episode springs from a concrete fact: the people are hungry and Jesus involves His disciples in satisfying this hunger. This is the concrete fact. Jesus didn’t limit Himself to give the crowds this — He offered His Word, His consolation, His salvation, finally His life –, but He also did this: He took care of food for the body. And we, His disciples, can’t pretend that nothing happened. Only by listening to people’s simplest requests and putting oneself next to their concrete existential situations can one be listened to when speaking of higher values. The love of God for humanity, hungry for bread, for freedom, for justice, for peace, and especially for His divine grace, never fails. Today also, Jesus continues today satiate, to render Himself living and consoling presence, and He does so through us. Therefore, the Gospel invites us to be available and busy, as that lad who realized he had five loaves and said: “I give this, then you’ll see to it . . .” In face of the cry of hunger — every sort of “hunger” — of so many brothers and sisters in every part of the world, we can’t remain detached and calm spectators. The proclamation of Christ, bread of eternal life, requires a generous commitment of solidarity with the poor, the weak, the last the vulnerable. This action of closeness and of charity is the best verification of the quality of our faith, both at the personal level as well as the communal level.
Then, at the end of the account, when all were satiated, Jesus asked His disciples to gather the pieces left over, so that nothing would be wasted. And I would like to propose to you this phrase of Jesus: “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost” (v. 12). I think of people who are hungry and how much leftover food we throw away . . . Let each one of us think: the food that’s left over at lunch, at dinner, where does it go? In my home, what’s done with this leftover food? Is it thrown out? No. If you have this habit, I give you advice: talk with your grandparents who lived after the War and ask them what they did with leftover food. Never throw away leftover food. It’s re-heated or given to someone who can eat it, who is in need. Never throw away leftover food. This is advice but also an examination of conscience: what is done at home with leftover food?
Let us pray to the Virgin Mary, so that in the world programs dedicated to development, to supplies, to solidarity prevail and not those of hatred, of armaments and of war.
And don’t forget two things: an image, an icon, and a phrase, a question. The icon of the courageous lad who gave the little he had to feed a great multitude. Always have courage. And the phrase, which is a question, an examination of conscience: what is done at home with leftover food? Thank you!