In his two years as Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis has become known as the Pope of the poor and disenfranchised, but in his Angelus message Sunday he reminded his hearers of the predominance of the spiritual over material life, saying that the universal “hunger for life and eternity” is even more important than a physical hunger for earthly food.
Citing the Gospel reading for the day, Francis said that Jesus wishes us to understand that “beyond physical hunger human beings carry in themselves another hunger—all of us have this hunger—a more important hunger, that cannot be satiated by ordinary food.”
This hunger, the Pope continued, is “a hunger for life, a hunger for eternity that only He can satisfy, because he is the ‘Bread of Life.’”
Francis noted that Jesus does not eliminate concern for the procurement of our daily food, or of anything that can make our lives better. “But Jesus reminds us that the true meaning of our existence comes at the end, in eternity, in our encounter with Him,” he said.
Jesus “reminds us that human history with its sufferings and joys must be seen against the backdrop of eternity, that is, the horizon of our definitive encounter with Him,” Francis said. It is this meeting that “enlightens all the days of our life.”
“If we think of this meeting, this great gift, the small gifts of life, and even our sufferings and worries will be illuminated by the hope of this meeting,” he said.
Noting that Jesus said that those who come to Him will never hunger, Francis said that Christ’s words on the Bread of Life refer especially to the Eucharist, “the greatest gift that satisfies the soul and the body.”
This “bread of life” also brings with it a task, Francis said, “because we can in turn satisfy the spiritual and material hunger of our brothers and sisters, proclaiming the Gospel everywhere.”
By the witness of our fraternal attitude towards others, he said, “we make Christ and his love present among men.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome