Prayer for peace

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The prayer for Peace is held in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.


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 6,22-29

Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side saw that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that the disciples had set off by themselves. Other boats, however, had put in from Tiberias, near the place where the bread had been eaten. When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?' Jesus answered: In all truth I tell you, you are looking for me not because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat. Do not work for food that goes bad, but work for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of man will give you, for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal. Then they said to him, 'What must we do if we are to carry out God's work?' Jesus gave them this answer, 'This is carrying out God's work: you must believe in the one he has sent.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After the multiplication of the loaves of bread, the crowd, remaining on the other side of the sea and seeing that Jesus and the disciples were no longer there, got into the other boats, which had come from Tiberias, close to the place where they had eaten the miraculously multiplied bread, and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. The evangelist notes that they found him "on the other side of the lake." Jesus was not where they had been looking for him. He was not the "king" that they had hoped for so as to satisfy their aspirations, even if they were legitimate and understandable hopes. Seeking the Lord asks that we go beyond ourselves and our habits, even our religious ones. The crowd needed to go beyond, far beyond, all the way "on the other side of the lake," beyond what they had thought. They had not fully grasped the profound meaning of the multiplication of the loaves of bread. This lack of understanding is clear to us because when they ask after Jesus, they feel again as though they had been abandoned: "When did you come here?" Jesus responds and unmasks the self-centred understanding of the miracle of the loaves.2 They had not understood the "sign," the spiritual meaning of the miracle Jesus had performed. Miracles were not merely a manifestation of Jesus' power, rather they were "signs" of the new kingdom Jesus had come to build on earth. These signs required conversion of heart for those who welcomed and saw them; that is the choice of being with Jesus, of following him and of participating with him in the work of transformation of the world that those "signs" already manifested. Jesus, like the good shepherd who leads the flock, explains to the crowd the meaning of the miracle they had seen and says, "27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." The bread that comes from heaven is Jesus himself; he is the Kingdom, the justice, the endless love the Father has given humanity. In the apocryphal gospel of Thomas there is a sentence Jesus said: "The one who is close to me is close to fire. The one who is far from me is far from the kingdom" (82). Welcoming this gift with all our heart and making of it our daily food is the "work" believers are called to do. It is not a vague feeling, but rather a true work of faith in Jesus, that requires choice, decision, commitment, work, fatigue, and most of all total and passionate involvement. Therefore, also great joy. No one can delegate this "work" to others. Becoming Jesus' disciples means letting the Gospel mould our lives, our minds, our hearts, even to the point of making us spiritual men and women. While we listen to the Word of God and commit ourselves to following it, we will see our eyes getting sharper, and Jesus will appear to us as the true bread descended from heaven that nourishes our hearts and sustains our lives.