Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) Imitate Mother Teresa, "an example of active and often heroic charity". With these words, Bendict XVI exhorted the Catholic world to show solidarity to those who live in misery, recalling the "founder of the Missionaries of Charity, who loved Jesus in the poorest of the poor and who received and contemplated Him each day in the consecrated Host".
During his last Angelus from Castel Gandolfo, the pope recalled the bond between the Eucharist "the most precious legacy left to us by Jesus" and charity, a bond linked to the entire earthly existence of Jesus "from conception to death on the cross", which was a "unique act of love".
Bendict XVI dedicated his Sunday reflection to the Eucharistic Mystery, the theme of the upcoming Synod of Bishops due to start in a week. "With some attention, we can render many and multiple forms of service to our neighbour in everyday life," said the pontiff, adding that "the Eucharist thus becomes the font of spiritual energy which renews the world in the love of Christ".
"The saints are exemplary witnesses of this love," said Benedict XVI, "they drew from the Eucharist the strength of active and often heroic charity". Other than Mother Teresa, the pope had St Vincent de Paul in mind, whose liturgical feast day is marked tomorrow. This saint used to say: "What joy to serve the person of Jesus Christ in his poor body!"
Benedict XVI also recalled that this is the last Sunday spent at Castel Gandolfo prior to his return to the Vatican, which is scheduled for Wednesday 28. "I would like to warmly greet the entire civil community," said the pope. "I reiterate my hearty gratitude to all for the welcome extended to me."
Below are the pope's words prior to the Angelus prayer:
Dear brothers and sisters!
In this last Sunday which I am spending at Castel Gandolfo, I would like to warmly greet the entire civil community, reiterating my hearty gratitude to all for the welcome extended to me.
Continuing with reflection about the Eucharistic Mystery, which is at the heart of Christian life, today I would like to highlight the bond between the Eucharist and charity. 'Charity', in Greek agape, in Latin caritas, does not mean first of all a benevolent act or feeling, but a spiritual gift, that is, the love of God which the Holy Spirit pours into the human heart and which moves it in turn to give itself to God and to the neighour (cfr Rm 5:5).
The entire earthly existence of Jesus from conception to death on the cross was a unique act of love, so much so that we can sum up our faith in these words: Jesus Caritas, Jesus Love. In the Last Supper, knowing that "his hour had come" (Jn 13:1), the divine Teacher offered his disciples a supreme example of love, washing their feet and entrusting them with his most precious legacy, the Eucharist, in which all the paschal mystery is concentrated, as the venerated Pope John Paul II wrote in the Encyclical Ecclesia di Eucharistia (cfr n.5). "Take, eat; this is my body drink, all of you, this is my blood" (Mt 26: 26-27). The words of Jesus in the Cenacle anticipate his death and show the state of mind with which He faced it, transforming it into a gift of self, into an act of love which is total self-sacrifice.
In the Eucharist, the Lord gives himself to us with his body, his soul and his divinity, and we become one thing with him and among ourselves. Our response to his love must then be concrete, and it must be expressed first of all in an authentic conversion to love, in forgiveness, in mutual welcome and with attention to the needs of all.
We can render many and multiple forms of service to our neighbour in everyday life. The Eucharist thus becomes the font of spiritual energy which renews the world in the love of Christ. The saints are exemplary witnesses of this love; they drew from the Eucharist the strength of active and often heroic charity.
I think of St Vincent de Paul whose memory we recall in the liturgy the day after tomorrow. He would say: "what joy to serve the person of Jesus Christ in his poor body!" I think also about Blessed Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, who loved Jesus in the poorest of the poor and who received and contemplated him each day in the consecrated Host."
First and above all the saints, divine charity filled the heart of the Virgin Mary. After the Annunciation, prompted by He who she carried in her womb, the Mother of the Word Incarnate quickly went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Let us pray so that every Christian, nourishing himself with the Body and Blood of the Lord, may grow ever more in love for God and in generous service to his brothers.