The Disciples Tell Jesus To Send the Crowd Away: Pope Francis

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Thursday we celebrated the feast of “Corpus Domini,” which in Italy and other countries is moved to this Sunday. It is the feast of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The Gospel proposes to us the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves of bread (Luke9:11-17). I would like to reflect on an aspect of this miracle that always strikes me and makes me think. We are on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, evening is drawing near; Jesus is concerned about the people who have been with him for many hours: there are thousands of people and they are hungry. What to do? The disciples pose the problem, and they say to Jesus: “Send the crowd away” so that they can go into the villages nearby and find something to eat. But Jesus says: “Give them something to eat yourselves” (9:13). The disciples are bewildered, and reply: “We only have 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish,” as if to say: just enough for us.

Jesus knows very well what to do but he wants to involve his disciples, he wants to educate them. The disciples have a human attitude, which looks for the more realist solution, which does not create too many problems: Send the crowd away, they say, and each person will do what he can. After all, you have already done a lot for them: you preached, you healed the sick… Send the crowd away!

Jesus’ attitude is sharply different, and it is determined by his union with the Father and by compassion for the people, that piety that Jesus has towards all of us: Jesus knows our problems, he knows are weaknesses, he knows our needs. With those 5 loaves of bread Jesus thinks: This is providence! From this little bit God can draw out what is necessary for everybody. Jesus puts himself entirely in the hands of the heavenly Father, he knows that with him all things are possible. So he tells the disciples to make the people sit down in groups of 50 – this is not by chance because this means that they are no longer a crowd but they have become a community nourished by the bread of God. Then he takes those bread and fish, lifts up his eyes to heaven, recites the benediction – it is a clear reference to the Eucharist – then he breaks them and begins to give them to the disciples, and the disciples distribute them… and there is not lack of bread and fish, no lack at all! This is the miracle: more than the multiplication there is the sharing animated by faith and prayer. Everyone eats and there is food left over: it is the sign of Jesus, the bread of God for humanity.

The disciples saw what happened but they did not understand the message very well. Like the crowd they were deeply impressed by the multiplication. Once again they do follow human logic rather than God’s logic, which is that of service, love, faith. The feast of “Corpus Domini” asks us to convert to faith in Providence, to know how to share the little that we are and have, and never to be closed up in ourselves. We ask our Mother Mary to help in this conversion, to follow more closely that Jesus whom we adore in the Eucharist. Amen.

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