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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John 6, 1-15

After this, Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee -- or of Tiberias-

and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he had done in curing the sick.

Jesus climbed the hillside and sat down there with his disciples.

The time of the Jewish Passover was near.

Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, 'Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?'

He said this only to put Philip to the test; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do.

Philip answered, 'Two hundred denarii would not buy enough to give them a little piece each.'

One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said,

'Here is a small boy with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that among so many?'

Jesus said to them, 'Make the people sit down.' There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down.

Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were sitting there; he then did the same with the fish, distributing as much as they wanted.

When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, 'Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing is wasted.'

So they picked them up and filled twelve large baskets with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves.

Seeing the sign that he had done, the people said, 'This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.'

Jesus, as he realised they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, fled back to the hills alone.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Gospel passage reports the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves according to the Gospel of John. The evangelist notes the large crowd that follows Jesus because of the “signs” he had performed on the sick. Those crowds intuited that Jesus was a strong and good man, who helped to heal people who had lost health and hope. On his part, Jesus understood this thirst for love that came from the people. The evangelist wrote, as if to emphasize the attitude of mercy, that Jesus “raised his eyes” and saw the crowd coming to meet him, unlike us who usually keep our eyes on ourselves and our business. Jesus asks us, together with him, to raise our eyes from the concentration we have for ourselves to be able to welcome those who suffer and who need our help. It is not the disciples who realize the hunger of the crowd. It is Jesus who does and asks Philip where to buy bread to give them something to eat. The apostle Philip does not know what to do other than say how impossible it is to find enough bread to feed that many people. It was the most obvious observation, but also the most resigned. Andrew, who was also present, comes forward and says that there are only five loaves and two fish. Practically nothing. For them the discussion is done. But they had not yet understood that “what is impossible for men, is possible for God.” We too should remember these words, instead of quietly resigning ourselves when faced with difficulties. But Jesus, who is guided by a passionate love for the people, does not resign. He orders them to sit the crowd down. And the scene opens to the great banquet where everyone is freely satisfied. The evangelist recalls the celebration of the Eucharist in this gesture and in Jesus’ words. Put into the hands of compassionate Jesus’, the loaves are enough for everyone. Unlike the Synoptic accounts, here the evangelist has Jesus acting alone: it is he who takes the bread, multiplies and distributes it—as if to emphasize that there is a direct relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. Beautiful are the words of Pope Francis to the priests, which we can all also welcome: “We need to get out… into the peripheries where suffering is, where blood is poured, there is a blindness that wants to see, there are prisoners of so many evil overlord… whoever does not get out of himself, instead of being a mediator, little by little becomes an intermediary, a manager. I ask you all: be pastors with the scent of sheep.” We must go toward the outskirts, toward those who await love, justice and peace. Let us put our few loaves into the hands of Jesus and the miracle happens. The hands of Jesus—it is he who multiplies and distributes—do not keep anything - they are used to opening, to being generous. He multiplies our weakness. The miracle continues if we, like that young man, leave the meanness of the disciples and put our poor loaves into Jesus’ hands. The crowd wanted to make him king. But he escaped onto the mountain, alone. Jesus does not want to dismiss the urgency of bread as much as highlight the need to nourish ourselves with the eternal bread: friendship with him.

Memory of Jesus crucified