“A good Sunday to all of you!,” Benedict XVI said as he greeted those present. “We meet here in Les Combes at such a comfortable house which the Salesians have put at the disposal of the Pope, where I am completing a period of rest amid the beautiful mountains of Valle d’Aosta. I am glad God gave me an opportunity to enjoy these days amid these beautiful mountains of yours, a time of real relaxation, despite a small accident which you all know about and can see.”
Playfully the Pope raised the arm with the broken wrist, which is healing nicely as shown by an x-ray that was done yesterday.
Taking his lead from today’s Gospel, “in this splendid Sunday in which the Lord shows us all the beauty of creation,” Benedict XVI focused on two passages.
The first one is about the multiplication of the loaves and the fish. John, pointing to the loaves as a “sign”, “emphasised how Christ, before he distributed them, blessed them with a prayer of thanksgiving (cf 11). The verb he used was eucharistein, a direct reference to story of the Last Supper in which John mentions the washing of the feet, but not of the institution of the Eucharist. Here the Eucharist is anticipated as the great sign of the bread of life.”
“In this Year for Priests, how can we not remember that especially we priests can relate to this Johannine text, identifying with the Apostles when they said: Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Indeed “when we read about the boy who had five barley loaves and two fish, we too can say: What good are these for so many? In other words, what am I? How can I, within my limits, help Jesus in his mission? The Lord himself has the answer. Precisely by placing themselves in his ‘holy and venerable’ hands do priests, however small they may be, become tools of salvation for so many, for everyone.”
A second point upon which to reflect comes from today’s remembrance of Saints Joachim and Anne, Our Lady’s parents, grandparents to Jesus. Thus we are led to think about education, which has such an important place in the pastoral work of the Church, to pray in particular for grandparents, who in the family are the repository and witnesses to the fundamental values of life. Grandparents’ educational role is always very important, and it becomes even more so, for a number of reasons, when parents are not able to be with their children during the early part of their life.”
“With a special blessing I place all the grandparents of the world under the protection of Saint Anne and Saint Joachim. May the Virgin Mary, who according to a beautiful iconography learnt about the Holy Scriptures on the knees of her mother Anne, always help them nurture the faith and instil hope from the sources of the Word of God.”
The Pontiff concluded his address with a “special blessing for all the grandparents of the world,” adding at the moment of taking his leave a thought “for the elderly, especially those who might be alone or in difficulty.
When it was time to say goodbye he told everyone “not to forget God during your holidays, because he is by your side, accompanying with you.”