Francis inaugurates the Fifth National Eucharistic Congress in Bolivia
Vatican City, 10 July 2015 (VIS) The Eucharist, bread broken for the life of the world is the theme of the Fifth National Eucharistic Congress of Bolivia, which the Holy Father inaugurated yesterday with the celebration of Mass in Plaza del Cristo Redentor in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Francis dedicated his homily to the sharing of bread, which Jesus distributed to the multitude with the same hands He raised to heaven to bless God, before almost two million faithful gathered in the square and in the adjacent streets where maxi-screens had been installed.
The readings and prayers of the celebration were in Spanish and in indigenous languages: Guarani, Quechua and Aimara. The passage from the Gospel of St. Mark recounted the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.
We have come from a variety of places, areas and villages, to celebrate the living presence of God among us, said the Pope. We have travelled from our homes and communities to be together as Gods holy People. The cross and the mission image remind us of all those communities which were born of the name of Jesus in these lands. We are their heirs. The Gospel which we just heard speaks of a situation much like our own. Like those four thousand people who gathered to hear Jesus, we too want to listen to His words and to receive His life. Like them, we are in the presence of the Master, the Bread of Life.
I am moved to see so many mothers carrying their children on their shoulders, like so many of you here. Carrying them, you bring your lives, the future of your people. You bring all your joys and hopes. You bring the blessing of the earth and all its fruits. You bring the work of your hands, hands which work today in order to weave tomorrows hopes and dreams. But those peoples shoulders were also weighed down by bitter disappointments and sorrows, scarred by experiences of injustice and of justice denied. They bore on their shoulders all the joy and pain of their land. You too bear the memory of your own people. Because every people has a memory, a memory which is passed on from generation to generation, a memory which continues to move forward. Frequently we tire of this journey. Frequently we lack the strength to keep hope alive. How often have we experienced situations which dull our memory, weaken our hope and make us lose our reason for rejoicing! And then a kind of sadness takes over. We think only of ourselves, we forget that we are a people which is loved, a chosen people. And the loss of that memory disorients us, it closes our heart to others, and especially to the poor.
We may feel the way the disciples did, when they saw the crowds of people gathered there. They begged Jesus to send them away, since it was impossible to provide food for so many people. Faced with so many kinds of hunger in our world, we can say to ourselves: 'Things dont add up; we will never manage, there is nothing to be done'. And so our hearts yield to despair. A despairing heart finds it easy to succumb to a way of thinking which is becoming ever more widespread in our world. It is a mentality in which everything has a price, everything can be bought, everything is negotiable. This way of thinking has room only for a select few, while it discards all those who are 'unproductive', unsuitable or unworthy, since clearly those people dont 'add up'. But Jesus once more turns to us and says: 'They dont need to go away; you yourselves, give them something to eat'.
"Those words of Jesus have a particular resonance for us today: No one needs to go away, no one has to be discarded; you yourselves, give them something to eat. Jesus speaks these words to us, here in this square. Yes, no one has to be discarded; you, give them something to eat. Jesus way of seeing things leaves no room for the mentality which would cut bait on the weak and those most in need. Taking the lead, He gives us His own example, He shows us the way forward. What He does can be summed up in three words. He takes a little bread and some fish, He blesses them and then gives them to His disciples to share with the crowd. This is how the miracle takes place. It is not magic or sorcery. With these three gestures, Jesus is able to turn a mentality which discards others into a mindset of communion and community. I would like briefly to look at each of these actions.