The Gospel: John 6:1-15.
At that time, Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias; and a great multitude followed him because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased. Jesus, therefore, went up into a mountain and there he sat with his disciples. Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus, therefore, had lifted up his eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" And this he said to try him for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him: "Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him: "There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves and two fishes, but what are these among so many?" Then Jesus said: "Make the men sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. The men, therefore, sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were sat down; in like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would. And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: "Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost." They gathered up, therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten. Now these men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: "This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world." Jesus, therefore, when he knew that they would come and take him by force and make him a king, fled again into the mountain himself alone.
Jesus teaches us, by his example, to nourish the poor, and attend to their necessities from which we may draw the following considerations:
The rich depend on the poor and the poor on the rich. The rich take care of the poor and the poor of the rich. The rich give corporal nourishment to the poor and the poor give them spiritual. The poor depend on the rich in time and the rich on the poor in eternity. Without the assistance of the rich the poor would die corporally; without the prayers and blessings of the poor the rich would die spiritually. The rich are the judges of the poor on earth; the poor shall be their judges in heaven. Why, then, do you despise the poor? Why treat them with harshness? Why do you not endeavour to deserve their blessings? Why do you not assist them?
Graces and chastisements are in the hands of the poor. When they demand mercy for him who aids them God grants their prayers. When they demand justice against those who send them empty away God also grants it. A rich man is in danger of losing his soul when he has not the prayers and benedictions of the poor. Those who have not the poor for their advocate shall not find grace with their Judge. He who has the poor to plead for him need not fear, but rejoice.
Be merciful, then, to the poor, since they are human and miserable like yourself. Their misery is only corporal, yours is spiritual. Who do you think it is that asks alms of you? It is Jesus, your King, your God, your Father. It is lie who, under the guise of poverty, implores your assistance. Oh, happy and honored are they who give alms to Jesus Christ. Accursed those who refuse him alms.
Resolution: I will give to those less fortunate than I am by any means I can as often as I can knowing that I give to Jesus himself.
Prayer: My loving Jesus, open my eyes to see thy face when I look at the poor and the suffering. Grant me the grace not to turn away but to reach our to them as I would to thee. To assist them with my talents and abilities, with my goods, with my heart, with compassion, even as I would assist thee, my Jesus. Never let me look upon someone in need and not see thee. O Mother of the poor, open my eyes to the face of thy Son in the poor and suffering and my heart to respond in love.
By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.