The love with which individuals and communities treat the poor, the weak, and the hungry, is the best measure of faith, Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Sunday.
“Faced with the cry of hunger – all sorts of ‘hunger’ – of so many brothers and sisters in every part of the world, we cannot remain detached and calm spectators,” the pope said July 29.
“The proclamation of Christ, bread of eternal life, requires a generous commitment of solidarity for the poor, the weak, the least important, the defenseless. This action of proximity and charity is the best verification of the quality of our faith, both on a personal level and on a community level.”
Reflecting on the day’s Gospel of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, the pope said that though Jesus gave everything for us, even his life, “he certainly did this too: he took care of the food for the body.”
Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fishes “springs from a concrete fact… People are hungry, and Jesus involves his disciples so that this hunger is satisfied.”
“And we, his disciples, cannot fake anything,” he continued. “Only by listening to the simplest demands of the people and by standing next to their concrete existential situations can one be heard when one speaks of higher values.”
The pope also pointed to the moment after Jesus performed the miracle and everyone ate until they were satisfied, when he directed his disciples to collect the leftover food, so it would not be wasted.
Speaking off-the-cuff, Francis asked those present to make an examination of their consciences, thinking about how much food they waste every day, throwing it away instead of putting it to good use.
“At home, what do you do with left-over food? Do you throw it away?” he asked. “Never throw away left-over food. Reuse it or give it to those who can eat it, to those who need it.”
He also told Catholics to reflect on the image of the “brave young man who gives the little he has to feed a great multitude,” offering Jesus his five barley loaves and two fish: “This boy makes us think… That courage… Young people are like that, they have courage. We must help them carry on this courage.”
“God’s love for humanity hungry for bread, for freedom, for justice, for peace, and above all for his divine grace, never fails,” he said. Jesus continues to feed his people, making himself a living presence, “through us.”
The Gospel invites Catholics to be “available and industrious,” like the boy who gave Jesus his loaves and fishes to be shared.
“Let us pray to the Virgin Mary, so the programs dedicated to development, food, solidarity prevail in the world,” he said.