By Vatican News staff writer
Greeting the faithful in Saint Peter’s Square on a sunny and sultry Roman Sunday, Pope Francis offered reflections on the day’s Gospel reading which speaks about the crowds following Jesus, after they had witnessed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. However, the crowds did not grasp the meaning of what Jesus had done and appeared to be more concerned more about having their fill of material bread.
The Pope said we too risk from this same narrow mentality, what might be called an “idolatrous temptation” he described as one where we seek God only for our own use and needs of the moment. This requires us to ask, “why do we seek the Lord?”, he said, and to think about what are our true motivations, to consider if our faith concerns seeking God primarily when we need him and forgetting about Him when we are satisfied. The Pope said it is right to present our needs before God, but we need to understand that the Lord first of all “wishes to live with us...in a relationship of love”, and to know that in response to our prayers He “acts far beyond our expectations”. True love is all gift, not expecting a favor in return, the Pope observed, and the relationship with God “goes beyond the logic of interest and calculation.”
In the today’s Gospel reading, the crowds then ask Jesus what they can do then to accomplish the works of God. The Pope said it was as if they were asking how we go from a faith that is only conerned about our immediate needs to one that pleases God. Jesus’ answer, the Pope said, is “that the work of God is to welcome the One whom the Father has sent, that is, Himself, Jesus.” The key here is “welcoming Jesus into our lives, living a story of love with Him”, the Pope pointed out, saying only Jesus can purify our faith and strengthen our “loving relationship” with Him. He summed it up: “before the things we receive and do, there is Him to love”.
This same thinking applies also to our human and social relationships, the Pope added, saying we need to be aware when we risk using others for our own interests. In society we need to keep people at the centre of our concern rather than simply interests, he stressed. In conclusion, before leading the recitation of the Angelus, he said, “let us welcome Jesus as the bread of life and, starting out from our friendship with Him, learn to love each other” freely and abundantly, looking to the example of the Blessed Virigin Mary “who lived the most beautiful story of love with God” and can help us receive this grace.