Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 7 June 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today in many countries, including Italy, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ or, according to the well known Latin expression, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.
The Gospel presents the narrative of the institution of the Eucharist, performed by Jesus during the Last Supper in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. On the eve of his redeeming death on the Cross, He fulfilled what had been foretold: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.... He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (Jn 6:51, 56). Jesus takes the bread in his hands and says “Take; this is my body” (Mk 14:22). With this gesture and with these words, He assigns to the bread a function which is no longer simply that of physical nutrition, but that of making his Person present in the midst of the community of believers.
The Last Supper represents the culmination of Christ’s entire life. It is not only the anticipation of his sacrifice which will be rendered on the Cross, but also the synthesis of a life offered for the salvation of the whole of humanity. Therefore, it is not enough to state that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, but one must see in it the presence of a life given and partake in it. When we take and eat that Bread, we are associated into the life of Jesus, we enter into communion with Him, we commit to achieve communion among ourselves, to transform our life into a gift, especially to the poorest.
Today’s feast evokes this message of solidarity and urges us to welcome the intimate invitation to conversion and to service, love and forgiveness. It urges us to become, with our life, imitators of that which we celebrate in the Liturgy. The Christ, who nourishes us under the consecrated species of bread and wine, is the same One who comes to us in the everyday happenings; He is in the poor person who holds out his hand, in the suffering one who begs for help, in the brother or sister who asks for our availability and awaits our welcome. He is in the child who knows nothing about Jesus or salvation, who does not have faith. He is in every human being, even the smallest and the defenceless.
The Eucharist, source of love for the life of the Church, is the school of charity and solidarity. Those who are nourished by the Bread of Christ cannot remain indifferent to those who do not have their daily bread. Today, we know it is an ever more serious problem.
May the Feast of Corpus Christi increasingly inspire and nurture in each one of us the desire and commitment for a welcoming and supportive society. Let us pour these hopes into the heart of the Virgin Mary, Eucharistic Woman. May she kindle in all the joy of participating in the Holy Mass, especially on Sundays, and the joyful courage to testify to the infinite love of Christ.
After the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters, I read there: “Welcome back!”. Thank you, because yesterday I went to Sarajevo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a pilgrim of peace and hope. Sarajevo is a symbolic city. For centuries it was a place of coexistence among peoples and religions, to the point of being called the “Jerusalem of the West”. In the recent past it became a symbol of the destruction of war. Now it is undergoing a beautiful process of reconciliation and for this reason above all I went: to encourage this journey of peaceful coexistence among different populations; an arduous and difficult, but possible journey! And they are doing it well. I renew my appreciation to the Authorities and all its citizens for their warm welcome. I thank the dear Catholic community, to whom I wanted to bring the affection of the universal Church and I especially thank all the faithful: Orthodox, Muslims, Jews and those of other religious minorities. I appreciate the commitment to cooperation and solidarity among these people who belong to different religions, urging everyone to push ahead with the work of the spiritual and moral rebuilding of society. They work together as brothers and sisters. May the Lord bless Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Next Friday on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we ponder the love of Jesus, how He loved us; all of this love is in his heart. On Friday we will also celebrate World Day Against Child Labour. So many children in the world do not have the freedom to play, to go to school, and end up being exploited as labourers. I hope for the international community’s earnest and constant commitment to the promotion of the active recognition of the rights of the child.
I now greet all of you, dear pilgrims from Italy and other countries. I see the flags of various countries. In particular I greet the faithful from Madrid, Brasilia and Curitiba; and those from Chiavari, Catania and Gottolengo, Brescia. I wish everyone a happy Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch! Arrivederci!
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