By Eric Martin
In part three of his catechesis on the Lord’s Prayer, Pope Francis pointed to the line where we ask God to “give us our daily bread”, which is something “we need to live as children of God”.
“Prayer – Jesus teaches us – does not begin in human existence after the stomach is full; rather it lurks wherever there is a man, any man, who is hungry, who cries, who struggles, who suffers and wonders ‘why’,” Pope Francis said in the Paul VI hall on 12 December 2018.
The “Our Father” prayer’s request for “daily bread”, the Holy Father explained, exemplifies God’s desire to meet man in his concrete reality, in his basic needs.
“Our first prayer, in a sense, was the wail that accompanied the first breath. In that newborn cry, the destiny of our whole life was announced: our continual hunger, our continual thirst, our search for happiness,” he continued.
The “daily bread” asked of God in the Our Father is for everyone, and Christians will be judged by how well they shared their gifts with those in need, Pope Francis said.
“Let’s get this in our heads: food is not private property, but providence to be shared with the grace of God,” the Supreme Pontiff added.
He reflected during the general audience on a line in the Lord’s Prayer, which says: “Give us this day our daily bread”.
Pope Francis explained that one day this “daily bread” could be the cause of one’s condemnation, if he or she did not share it with others.
“It was bread given for humanity, and instead it was eaten only by somebody,” he explained.
“Love cannot bear this. Our love cannot stand it; nor can the love of God bear this egoism of not sharing bread.”
Pope Francis asked those present to stop and think about those who pray this prayer and are really in need of basic necessities, such as food and water.
He urged people to consider the many parents who go to bed at night anxious about how they will feed their kids the next day and the many hungry children, especially in countries at war.
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 Holy Father 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.”