Memory of Jesus crucified

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Today the Gypsy people, including those of Islamic faith, celebrate St. George, who died a martyr to free the Church.

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

This Gospel passage tells of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves as reported in John’s Gospel. The Evangelist refers to the large crowd following Jesus because they had seen the signs that he was doing for the sick. All of them felt that they had found themselves in the presence of a good and powerful man capable of helping and curing whoever was sick and had lost hope. Jesus, for his part, was aware of the crowd’s thirst for love. Wanting to underline Jesus’ act of mercy, the Evangelist writes that Jesus "looked up" and saw the crowd coming to meet him. He is not like us who generally tend to look only at our affairs and at ourselves. There is an enormous need for us to look up from ourselves and take notice of all those who are suffering and in need of help. It is not the disciples, but Jesus, who takes notice and asks Philip where one could buy bread for all of these people to eat. The apostle—whose heart was far from that of Jesus—does not know how to respond other than saying that it is impossible to find bread enough to feed all of the people. It was the most obvious observation, but also the most resigned. Andrew, who was part of the conversation, comes forward and says that they have only five barley loaves and two fish - practically nothing. For them, then, the discussion was closed. They still had not understood that "what is impossible to people is possible to God." We, too, must often remember these words instead of tranquilly resigning ourselves in front of difficulties. Jesus, guided by an enthusiastic love for the people, is not resigned. He commands them to make the crowd sit down. What now opens is the scene of a great banquet in which all can freely partake. In Jesus’ actions and words, the evangelist recalls the celebration of the Eucharist. Those loaves placed in the hands of Jesus, the compassionate, are sufficient for everyone. Unlike the narrative in the Synoptic Gospels, here the evangelist has Jesus act all by himself: it is he alone who takes the bread, multiplies and distributes them. It is like underlining that there is a direct relationship between the shepherd and his sheep. It is enough just for us to place our few loaves of bread in the hands of the Lord for the miracle to happen. His hands hold nothing back for himself; rather, they are used to opening themselves up, to being generous. More over, his hands take our weaknesses and multiply them into a greater strength. The miracle continues if we, like that boy, leave behind the disciples’ narrow-mindedness and place in the Lord’s hands what poor barley loaves we have. The crowds wanted to proclaim Jesus king; he, however, ran off to the mountain by himself. Jesus does not want to depreciate the urgency for bread; if anything, he draws attention to the necessity to nourish ourselves with eternal bread: friendship with him.