Think of “the starving children of Yemen,” he said, “the hungry children in Syria, the hungry children in many countries where there is no bread, in South Sudan.”
“We think of these children and thinking of them we say together, aloud, the prayer: ‘Father, give us this day our daily bread,’” he said. This is because “the bread that the Christian asks for in prayer is not ‘mine’ but ‘our’ bread,” he explained. “This is what Jesus wants.”
Jesus, Pope Francis stated, teaches his followers to pray not only for their own needs, but for the needs of the whole world, because “if God is our Father, how can we present ourselves to Him without joining hands?”
The ‘Our Father,’ he continued, “contains an attitude of empathy, an attitude of solidarity. In my hunger I feel the hunger of the multitudes, and then I will pray to God until their request is granted.”
The pope concluded by recalling the miracle of the loaves and the fishes in the Gospels, when Jesus takes five loaves and two fishes, which were shared by one generous child, and multiplies them into enough to feed a crowd of thousands.
“[Jesus] himself, multiplying that offered bread, anticipated the offering of Himself in the Eucharistic Bread,” he said. “In fact, only the Eucharist is able to satiate the hunger for the infinite and the desire of God that animates every man, even in the search for daily bread.”
At the end of the audience, Pope Francis greeted an 85-year-old Italian religious sister, who has spent nearly 60 years as a missionary in Africa, serving as an obstetrician.
Sr. Maria Concetta Esu is a member of the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Joseph of Genoni. Pope Francis said Wednesday that he first met Esu in Bangui, Central African Republic in 2015, when she told him the story of her life, including that she has helped to deliver thousands of babies.
Since Esu is in Rome for a few days to spend time with the sisters of her order and to meet with her superior, the pope said he thought to “take advantage of this opportunity to give her a sign of gratitude and to say a great thank you for her testimony!”
He gave her a medallion, a rosary, and a certificate of a papal blessing. He wanted to honor her, he said, as “a sign of our affection and of our ‘thank you’ for all the work you have done among African sisters and brothers, in the service of life, of children, mothers and families.”
The pope also took a moment to praise the work of all missionaries, whether priests, religious or laypeople, who, he said, are often not found in newspapers, but through their work “spread the seed of the Kingdom of God in every part of the world.”
“Sr. Maria Concetta, after this meeting, will return to Africa in the next days,” he said. “Let us accompany her with prayer. And her example will help us all to live the Gospel where we are.”
(Story continues below)
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