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Capable Of Compassion

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Capable Of Compassion

Serve others with the same compassion that Jesus had towards the people who followed him: this is the mission of every believer, who is called to offer to the men and women of our time “€œthe concrete sign of mercy and of the attention of Christ”€. These were Pope Francis”€™ words during the General Audience on Wednesday, 17 August, in the Paul VI Hall. Commenting on the Gospel passage of Matthew (14:13-21), which
narrates the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the Pope
recalled that Jesus”€™ compassion “€œis not a vague sentiment”€ but shows instead
the full force of his desire to be close to us and to save us. In imitating
this attitude a Christian thus becomes “€œan instrument of communion in our own
family, at work, in the parish and the groups we belong to”€, thus visible
witnesses to “€œthe mercy of God who does not want to leave anyone in loneliness
and in need, so that communion and peace may descend to mankind and to
mankind”€™s communion with God”€. The following is a translation of the Holy
Father”€™s catechesis, which he gave in Italian.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning!

Today we wish to reflect upon the miracle
of the multiplication of the loaves. At the beginning of the narrative given by
Matthew (cf. 14:13-21), Jesus has just received word of the death of John the
Baptist, and by boat crosses the lake in search of a “€œlonely place apart”€ (v.
13). The people understand, however, and precede him on foot and thus, “€œas he
went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their
sick”€ (v. 14). That”€™s how Jesus was: always compassionate, always thinking of
others. The determination of the people “€” who fear being left alone, as if
abandoned “€” is striking. John the Baptist, the charismatic prophet, is dead;
[the crowd] trusts in Jesus, about whom John had said: “€œhe who is coming after
me is mightier than I”€ (Mt 3:11). Thus the crowd follows him everywhere, to
listen to him and to bring him the sick. And seeing this, Jesus is moved. Jesus
is not cold, he does not have a cold heart. Jesus is capable of being moved. On
the one hand, he feels a bond with this crowd and does not want them to leave;
on the other, he needs a moment of solitude, of prayer, with the Father. Often
he spends the night praying to his Father.

Thus, that day too, the Master is devoted to the people. His compassion is not a vague sentiment; instead he shows all the strength of his will to be close to us and to save us. Jesus loves us so much and wants to be close to us.

As evening falls, Jesus is concerned with feeding
all those tired and hungry people, and looks after those who follow him. He
wants his disciples to be involved in this. Indeed he says to them: “€œyou give
them something to eat”€ (Mt 14:16). He shows them that the few loaves and fishes
that they have, with the power of faith and of prayer, can be shared with all
of those people. Jesus works a miracle, but it is the miracle of faith, of
prayer, created by compassion and love. Thus, Jesus “€œbroke and gave the loaves
to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds”€ (v. 19). The Lord
meets the needs of mankind, but wants to render each one of us a concrete
participant in his compassion.

Now let us pause on this, Jesus”€™ gesture of blessing: “€œtaking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves”€ (v. 19). As you see, they are the same signs that Jesus performed at the Last Supper; and they are also the same gestures that each priest performs when he celebrates the Holy Eucharist. The
Christian community is born and reborn continually from this Eucharistic
communion. Living communion with Christ is therefore anything but being passive
and separating from daily life; on the contrary, it includes us more and more
in the relationship with the men and women of our time, in order to offer them
the concrete sign of mercy and of the attention of Christ. While we are
nourished by Christ, the Eucharist which we celebrate transforms us too, step
by step, into the Body of Christ and spiritual food for our brothers and
sisters. Jesus wants to reach everyone, in order to bring God”€™s love to
everyone. For this reason he makes every believer a servant of mercy. Jesus saw
the crowd, felt compassion for them and multiplied the loaves; thus he does the
same with the Eucharist. We believers who receive this Eucharistic bread are
spurred by Jesus to take this service to others, with his same compassion. This
is the way.

The narrative of the multiplication of the
loaves and fishes ends with the verification that everyone is satisfied and
with the collection of the leftover pieces (c. v. 20).

When Jesus, with his compassion and his
love, gives us grace, forgives us our sins, embraces us, loves us, he does not
do things halfway, but completely. As it happened here: all were satisfied.
Jesus fills our heart and our life with his love, with his forgiveness, with
his compassion. Thus, Jesus allowed his disciples to carry out his command. In
this way they know the path to follow: to feed the people and keep them united;
that is, to be at the service of life and of communion. Therefore, let us
invoke the Lord, that he always make his Church capable of this holy service,
and that each one of us may be an instrument of communion in our own family, at
work, in the parish and the groups we belong to, a visible sign of the mercy of
God who does not want to leave anyone in loneliness and in need, so that
communion and peace may descend to mankind and to mankind”€™s communion with God,
because this communion is life for all.

Special greetings

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and
visitors taking part in today”€™s Audience, particularly those from Ireland,
Sweden, Ghana, Nigeria, China and the United States of America. With prayerful good wishes that the present
Jubilee of Mercy will be a moment of grace and spiritual renewal for you and
your families, I invoke upon all of you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Last, I address the young people, the sick
and newly-weds. The Solemnity of the Assumption which we celebrated dates ago,
called us to live with commitment the journey of this world constantly focused
on eternal goods.

Dear young people, in building your future
always place Christ”€™s call at the first place. May you, dear sick people, have
in your suffering the comfort of the maternal presence of Mary, sign of hope.
To you, dear newly-weds, I wish that your love may reflect the infinite and
eternal love of God.


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