By Alessandro Di Bussolo
Pope Francis offered Tuesday’s Mass for the eternal rest of Archbishop Giorgio Zur, who died late Monday night. He lived in the Casa Santa Marta with the Pope and once served as Apostolic Nuncio to Austria.
In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel (Mk 6:34-44) about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, and on the First Reading, taken from the First Letter of John (4:7-10).
God loved us first
The Holy Father said the Apostle John explains “how God manifests His love in us.” “Let us love one another, because love is of God,” John writes.
Pope Francis called this the mystery of love: “God loved us first. He took the first step.” God loved us, he said, even though we “don’t know how to love” and “need God’s caresses in order to love.”
“This first step God takes is His Son. He sent Him to save us and to give meaning to our lives and to renew and recreate us.”
Jesus has compassion on crowd
Reflecting on the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Pope Francis said Jesus fed the crowd out of compassion.
“God’s heart, Jesus’ heart, was moved when he saw these people, and he could not remain indifferent. Love is restless. Love does not tolerate indifference; love is compassionate. But love means putting your heart on the line for others; it means [showing] mercy.”
Give them food yourselves
Then Pope Francis described the scene as the disciples went in search of food. He said Jesus taught them and the people many things, but they grew bored, “because Jesus always said the same things.”
As Jesus teaches “with love and compassion”, the Pope said, maybe they began “to talk amongst themselves.” They start to check their watches, saying “It’s getting late.”
The Holy Father then quoted Mark: “But Master, this is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” The Pope said they basically wanted the people to work it out themselves. “But we can be sure,” he said, “that they surely had enough bread for themselves, and they wanted to keep it. This is indifference.”
“The disciples were not interested in the people. Jesus was interested, because he cared for them. They weren’t evil, just indifferent. They didn’t know what it meant to love. They didn’t know how to show compassion. They didn’t know what indifference was. They had to sin, betray the Master, and abandon him in order to understand the core of compassion and mercy. And Jesus’ response cuts deep: ‘Give them some food yourselves.’ Take their plight upon yourselves. This is the struggle between the compassion of Jesus and indifference, which is always repeated throughout history. Many people who are good, but don’t understand the needs of others, are incapable of compassion. They are good people, maybe because the love of God has not entered into their heart or they have not let it enter.”
Homeless woman in Rome
Pope Francis then described a photo hung on the wall of the Office of Papal Charities. He said it was a picture taken by a local man who offered it to the Papal Almoner. Daniel Garofani, now a photographer for the Osservatore Romano, took the photo after distributing food with Cardinal Krajewski to homeless people. Pope Francis said it shows well-dressed people leaving a restaurant in Rome as a homeless woman lifts her hand to beg for alms. He said the picture was taken “just as the people looked away, so that their gaze would not meet” that of the homeless woman. This, the Pope said, “is the culture of indifference. That’s what the Apostles did.”
Indifference is the opposite of love
Pope Francis said God’s love always comes first and is compassionate and merciful. He said it is true that the opposite of love is hate, but that many people are not aware of “a conscious hate”.
“The more-common opposite of the love of God – of God’s compassion – is indifference. ‘I’m satisfied; I lack nothing. I have everything. I’ve assured my place in this life and the next, since I go to Mass every Sunday. I’m a good Christian. But leaving the restaurant, I look the other way.’ Let’s reflect on this: Confronted with God who takes the first step, is compassionate, and is merciful, many times our attitude is indifference. Let us pray to the Lord that He heal humanity, starting with us. May my heart be healed from the sickness of the culture of indifference.”
80th Birthday greetings to Kiko Argüello
At the end of Mass, Pope Francis sent warm greetings to Kiko Argüello, co-initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way, for his 80th birthday on January 9th. The Pope also thanked him “for the apostolic zeal with which he works for the Church.”