St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 22 July 2018
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
The Gospel of today (cf. Mk 6: 30-34) tells us that the apostles, after their first mission, return to Jesus and tell him "all they had done and what they had taught" (v.30). After the experience of the mission, certainly exciting but also tiring, they have a need for rest. And Jesus, full of understanding, takes care to assure them some relief and says: «Come aside, you alone, in a deserted place, and rest a while» (v.31). But this time the intention of Jesus can not be realized, because the crowd, sensing the solitary place where he would go with the boat with his disciples, came there before their arrival.
The same can happen today. Sometimes we fail to realize our projects, because an unexpected emergency occurs that messes up our programs and requires flexibility and availability to the needs of others.
In these circumstances, we are called to imitate what Jesus did: "He came down from the boat, he saw a great crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and began to teach them many things" (v. 34). In this short sentence, the evangelist offers us a flash of singular intensity, photographing the eyes of the divine Master and his teaching. Let's look at the three verbs of this frame: to see, to have compassion, to teach. We can call them the verbs of the Shepherd. The gaze of Jesus is not a neutral or, worse, cold and detached look, because Jesus always looks with the eyes of the heart. And his heart is so tender and full of compassion, that he knows how to grasp the even more hidden needs of people. Moreover, his compassion does not simply indicate an emotional reaction to a situation of unease of the people, but it is much more: it is the attitude and predisposition of God towards man and his history. Jesus appears as the realization of God's concern and care for his people.
Since Jesus was moved to see all those people in need of guidance and help, we would expect that He would now work some miracle. Instead, he began to teach them many things. Here is the first bread that the Messiah offers to the hungry and lost crowd: the bread of the Word. We all need the word of truth, to guide us and enlighten the path. Without the truth, which is Christ himself, it is not possible to find the right orientation of life. When one moves away from Jesus and his love, one loses oneself and existence turns into disappointment and dissatisfaction. With Jesus on the side we can proceed with security, we can overcome the trials, we progress in love for God and for our neighbor. Jesus has made himself a gift for others, thus becoming a model of love and service for each one of us.
May Mary Most Holy help us to take on the problems, sufferings and difficulties of our neighbor, through an attitude of sharing and service.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
in recent weeks there have been dramatic reports of shipwrecks of boats loaded with migrants in the waters of the Mediterranean. I express my sorrow in the face of these tragedies and assure for my missing and their families my memory and my prayer. I address a heartfelt appeal for the international community to act decisively and promptly, in order to prevent such tragedies from repeating themselves, and to guaranteeing security, respect for the rights and dignity of all.
I address my greeting to all of you, Romans and pilgrims. I greet in particular the faithful of the diocese of Rio do Sul (Brazil), the youth of the diocese of Sevilla (Spain) and the youth of the diocese of Pelplin (Poland), who have come from Assisi in a prayer relay for the next Synod of Bishops.
I greet the parish groups and associations; the group of youngsters of Piazzola sul Brenta, diocese of Vicenza.
I wish everyone a happy Sunday and, please, do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!