After the multiplication of the loaves, the people had begun to look for Jesus and they found him in Capernaum. He understands well the reason for so much enthusiasm in following after him and he reveals it clearly: “You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”
In fact, these people follow him because of the material bread that had satisfied their hunger the day before, when Jesus had multiplied the loaves. They had not understood that this bread broken for so many, for the multitude, was the expression of love of Jesus himself. They had given more value to the bread than to its provider.
Faced with this spiritual blindness, Jesus points to the need to go beyond the gift and discover the giver. God himself is the gift and the giver. And thus in that bread, in that gesture, the people can find the One who gives the bread, who is God.
He invites to open oneself to a perspective that is not only that of daily concerns: what to eat, what to wear, success, one’s career. Jesus speaks of another food, he speaks of a food that does not perish, and that is necessary to seek and to welcome. He exhorts: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” That is, look for salvation, an encounter with God.
With these words, he wants us to understand that beyond physical hunger, man has a different kind of hunger – all of us have this hunger – a hunger that is more important and that cannot be satisfied with normal food. This is a hunger for life, a hunger for eternity that only He can satisfy as He is the “bread of life.”
Jesus does not eliminate the preoccupation with and search for daily food. No. He doesn’t eliminate the concern for all of this that can make life more advanced. But Jesus reminds us that in the end, the true meaning of our earthly existence is in eternity, is in the encounter with Him, who is gift and giver. And he reminds us as well that human history, with its suffering and joys, needs to be viewed in a context of eternity, that is, in the context of that definitive encounter with Him.
And this encounter enlightens us during all the days of our lives. If we think of this encounter, of this great gift, the small gifts of life, and also the sufferings, the worries, will be illuminated by the hope of this encounter. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” This is a reference to the Eucharist, the greatest gift that satisfies the soul and the body.
To find and to welcome Jesus within us, the “bread of life,” gives meaning and hope in the often-difficult path of life. But this “bread of life” has been given us with a task: that we at the same time satisfy the spiritual and material hunger of our brothers and sisters, proclaiming the Gospel in every place.
With the testimony of our attitude of fraternity and solidarity with our neighbor, we make Christ and his love present again in the midst of mankind. The Holy Virgin helps us in the search for and following of her son Jesus, the true bread, the living bread that does not perish and that “endures for eternal life.”
[The Pope then led the people in praying the Angelus:]
[He then made the following comments:]
Dear brothers and sisters, I greet all of you, faithful of Rome and pilgrims from other countries.
I greet the Spanish youth from Zizur Mayor, Elizondo and Pamplona, and also the Italians of Badia, San Matteo della Décima, Zugliano and Grumolo Pedemonte. And I greet the pilgrimage sponsored by the ‘Arciconfraternita Parte Guelfa’ of Florence.
Today we recall the Feast of Pardon of Assisi. It is a strong call to draw close to the Lord in the sacrament of mercy and also to receive Communion. There are people who are afraid of approaching confession, forgetting that there, we do not find a severe judge, but rather the immensely merciful Father.
It’s true that when we go to the confessional, we feel a bit of embarrassment, and that happens to everyone, to all of us, but we have to recall that this shame is also a grace that prepares us for the embrace of the Father, who always forgives and always forgives everything.
I wish everyone a good Sunday. And please, don’t forget to pray for me.
‘Buon pranzo’ and ‘buona domenica.’