Jesus’ miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes is a lesson for us all, Pope Francis said Wednesday.
“His compassion is not a vague sentiment,” the Pope said, adding that Jesus “loves us so much, and wants to be close to us.”
The Pope reflected on the miracle of Jesus’ feeding of 5,000 people as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew, saying that the miracle offered a lesson for Christ’s disciples.
“He shows them that the few loaves and fishes they have, with the power of faith and of prayer, can be shared by all the people,” the Pope said. “It is a miracle that he does, but it is the miracle of faith, of prayer with compassion and love.”
The pontiff summarized the gospel account in his catechesis at the weekly General Audience in the Paul VI Hall Aug. 16.
“Jesus wishes to withdraw and pray, but seeing the multitudes, is moved by compassion and chooses to remain with them. By instructing his disciples to feed the crowd, he teaches them to have faith and invites them to share in his concern for those in need,” he continued. “The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes is a concrete sign of that merciful concern.”
The story in the Gospel of Matthew “clearly evokes” the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, the Pope said. Jesus lifts his eyes to heaven, says the blessing, breaks the bread and gives it.
“The Christian community is born and reborn continually by this Eucharistic communion,” Pope Francis said. This communion with Christ impels Christians today to go out to men and women to offer them “the concrete sign” of the mercy of Christ. This makes believers “servants of mercy.”
“Through our partaking of the Eucharist, we not only receive spiritual nourishment, but, conformed ever more fully to the Lord, we become signs of his merciful presence to those around us,” the Pope continued.
He prayed that God might make Christians become “instruments of communion” in their own relationships.
“May all of us, as members of Christ’s body, seek to bring to our families and communities, and especially to those most in need, the nourishment of God’s closeness, mercy and love,” he concluded.