Our Daily Bread
Pope Francis’ General Audience
Let us think of children that are in countries at war: the starving children of Yemen, the starving children in Syria, the starving children in so many countries where there isn’t bread, in South Sudan. Let us think of these children and, thinking of them, let us say together in a loud voice the prayer: “Father, give us this day our daily bread” — altogether.
27 March 2019 • Vatican City
Every Wednesday, Pope Francis has his General Audience with thousands of faithful. Here’s this week’s catechesis on the Our Father.
Translation by: Virginia Forrester, ZENIT
Dear brothers and Sisters, good morning!
We pass today to analyze the second part of the “Our Father,” in which we present our needs to God. This second part begins with a word that smells daily: bread.
Jesus’ prayer begins with a pressing demand, which is very similar to the entreaty of a beggar: “Give us our daily bread!” This prayer comes from evidence that we often forget, that is, that we aren’t self-sufficient creatures, and that every day we need to eat.
The Scriptures show us that for many people the encounter with Jesus began from a question. Jesus doesn’t ask for refine invocations, rather, the whole of human existence, with its most concrete and daily problems, can become a prayer. We find in the Gospel a multitude of beggars, who supplicate for liberation and salvation. One who asks for bread, another for healing, some for purification, others for sight, or that a dear person live again . . . Jesus never goes by indifferent to these requests and to these sorrows.
Therefore, Jesus teaches us to ask the Father for daily bread. He teaches us to do so united to so many men and women for whom this prayer is a cry — often held inside — which accompanies everyday anxiety. How many mothers and how many fathers, also today, go to sleep with the torment of not having enough bread the next day for their children! Let us imagine this prayer recited not in the security of a comfortable apartment, but in the precariousness of a room where we fit, where what is necessary to live is lacking. Jesus’ words assume a new force. Christian prayer begins from this level. It’s not an exercise for ascetics; it starts from reality, from the heart and from the flesh of people that live in need, or who share the condition of those that don’t have what is necessary to live. Not even the highest Christian mystics can do without the simplicity of this request. “Father, see to it that for us and for all there is today the necessary bread.” And “bread” stands also for water, medicine, house, work . . . To ask for what is necessary to live. The bread that a Christian asks for in prayer is not “my” but “our” bread. It’s how Jesus wants it. He teaches us to ask it, not only for ourselves but for the entire brotherhood of the world. If one doesn’t pray in this way, the “Our Father” ceases to be a Christian prayer. If God is our Father, how can we present ourselves to Him without taking one another by the hand? — all of us. And if we steal among ourselves the bread that He gives us, how can we say we are His children? This prayer contains an attitude of empathy and solidarity. In my hunger, I feel the hunger of multitudes, and then I’ll pray to God until their prayer is heard. This is how Jesus educates His community, His Church, to bring to God the needs of all: “We are all your children, O Father, have mercy on us!” And now it will do us good to pause a bit and to think of starving children. Let us think of children that are in countries at war: the starving children of Yemen, the starving children in Syria, the starving children in so many countries where there isn’t bread, in South Sudan. Let us think of these children and, thinking of them, let us say together in a loud voice the prayer: “Father, give us this day our daily bread” — altogether.
The bread that we ask of the Lord in prayer is the same that one day will accuse us. It will reprove our little habit of breaking it with one who is close to us, our little habit of sharing it. It was bread given for humanity and, instead, only someone ate it: love can’t endure this. Our love can’t endure this; nor can the love of God endure this egoism of not sharing the bread.
There was once a great crowd before Jesus; they were people who were hungry. Jesus asked if someone has something, and only a child was found ready to share his supply: five loaves and two fishes. Jesus multiplied that generous gesture (Cf. John6:9). That child had understood the lesson of the “Our Father”: that food isn’t private property– let’s keep this in our mind: food isn’t private property –, but providence to share, with the grace of God.
The true miracle wrought by Jesus that day was not so much the multiplication — which is true –, but the sharing: give what you have and I will do the miracle. He Himself, by multiplying that bread offered, anticipated the offering of Himself in the Eucharistic Bread. In fact, only the Eucharist is able to satiate the hunger for the infinite and the desire for God that animates every man, also in the search for daily bread.
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
© Libreria Editrice Vatican