Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) - "Jesus was not a Messiah who aspired to an earthly throne. He did not seek popularity to conquer Jerusalem. In fact, he wanted to go to the Holy City to share the fate of the prophets, and give his life for God and the people," Benedict XVI said in his reflections ahead of the Angelus prayers before a crowd of pilgrims that had gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo.
The Pontiff continued today to comment Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John, about the address Jesus made to the synagogue in Capernaum after the multiplication of the loaves and the fish (6:51-58).
"The loaves, broken for thousands of people, were not meant to cause a triumphal march," said the pope. "They foreshadowed the sacrifice on the Cross when Jesus became bread broken for the multitudes, body and blood offered in atonement for the life of the world. Jesus addressed the crowds to break their illusions and, especially, force his disciples to decide. In fact, many of them no longer followed him."
In this address, Benedict XVI explained, "Jesus revealed the meaning of the miracle, that the age of promises had been accomplished. God the Father, who had fed the Israelites in the desert with manna, now had sent Him, the Son, as Bread of eternal life. This bread is his flesh, his life, offered for us in sacrifice. We have to receive him with faith, and not be shocked by his humanity. It is about eating his flesh and drinking his blood (cf John, 6:54) in order to have in oneself the fullness of life."
"It is clear that this address is not a popularity contest. Jesus knows it and intentionally says so. In fact, it is a critical moment, a turning point in his public mission. People, even the disciples, were enthusiastic about him when he carried wonderful deeds. The multiplication of the loaves and fish was a clear revelation of the Messiah, so much so that the crowd sought to carry Jesus in triumph and proclaim king of Israel. That certainly was not what Jesus wanted; in his long address, he dampened people's enthusiasm and provoked dissent. In explaining the imagery of the bread, he said that he was sent to offer his life and that those who wanted to follow him had to join Him in a deep and personal way, participating in his sacrifice of love. This is why Jesus established the Sacrament of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, so that his disciples might carry in themselves his charity, and, like a single body, be united to Him, and extend in the world his mystery of salvation."
"Dear friends," the pope said in concluding, "let us be amazed by Christ's words. He, a kernel of grain dropped in the furrow of history, is the firstling of a new humanity, freed from the corruption of sin and death. We rediscover the beauty of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which expresses all the humility and holiness of God, his becoming small, a piece of the universe in order to reconcile it fully in love. May the Virgin Mary, who gave the world the Bread of life, teach us to live always in deep union with Him."