The reflection in Give Us This Day for today’s Gospel – St. Matthew’s account of the feeding of the multitude – comes from Pope John Paul II’s Go in Peace. Talking about the millions of people who live in abject poverty in the world, the Pope asks “How can we not open our ears and hearts and start to make available those loaves and fishes that God has put into our hands?”
Pope John Paul II writes:
If each one of us contributes, we can all do something for [those who suffer]. Of course, this will require sacrifice, which calls for a deep inner conversion. Certainly it will involve changing our exaggerated consumerist behavior, combating hedonism, and resisting attitudes of indifference and the tendency to disregard our personal responsibilities.
The Pope acknowledged that finding immediate solutions is not easy, but that difficulty is no excuse for not working to find them so that we no longer have the kinds of contrasts between poverty and wealth that he called “intolerable for humanity.”
He does offer a suggestion for a step in the right direction, one many of us would rather not hear:
For each of us, moderation and simplicity ought to become the criteria of our daily lives. The quantity of goods consumed by a tiny fraction of the world population produces a demand greater than available resources. A reduction of this demand constitutes a first step in alleviating poverty, provided that is it accompanied by effective measures to guarantee a fair distribution of the world’s wealth.
Pope John Paul’s words are pretty strong, and they remind us that the social teachings of the Catholic church – which include the principle that the goods of this world are originally meant for all (the “universal destination of goods”) – “must not be considered a theory, but above all else a basis and a motivation for action.”
Each of us must ask how we will put that theory into practice. Each of us must consider how we will share “those loaves and fishes that God has put into our hands.”