Francis celebrated Corpus Domini in St John Lateran. “How many mothers, how many fathers, together with the slices of bread they provide each day on the tables of their homes, have broken their hearts to let their children grow, and grow well! How many Christians, as responsible citizens, have broken their own lives to defend the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those discriminated!”
Roma (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the steps of Rome’s cathedral basilica of St John Lateran this evening to mark the Solemnity of the Corpus Domini.
In instituting the Eucharist, Jesus expressed the desire to “feed” his brothers and sisters; he also “broke” the bread himself. In doing so, he gave his disciples a command that the pontiff renewed today, thus playing out once again the ancient tradition.
Following the Mass, the Eucharistic procession – joined by the city’s confraternities – made its way to the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, where the pope imparted (pictured) the solemn blessing with the Blessed Sacrament to the many thousands of people present.
In his homily, the Holy Father spoke about “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11 :24-25), stressing the “doing” part of the Eucharist with Jesus, and the “breaking” of the bread.
The “multiplication of the loaves and fish” stands for the “doing”. When he stood in front of “tired and hungry crowds, [he said,] ‘Give them something to eat yourselves’ (Lk 9:13). Indeed, it is Jesus who blesses and breaks the loaves and provides sufficient food to satisfy the whole crowd, but it is the disciples who offer the five loaves and two fish. Jesus wanted it this way: that, instead of sending the crowd away, the disciples would put at his disposal what little they had. And there is another gesture: the pieces of bread, broken by the holy and venerable hands of Our Lord, pass into the poor hands of the disciples, who distribute these to the people. This too is the disciples ‘doing’ with Jesus; with him they are able to ‘give them something to eat’. Clearly this miracle was not intended merely to satisfy hunger for a day, but rather it signals what Christ wants to accomplish for the salvation of all mankind, giving his own flesh and blood (cf. Jn 6:48-58). And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish which we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all.”
Doing is also breaking, the “other word explaining the meaning of those words: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’. Jesus was broken; he is broken for us. And he asks us to give ourselves, to break ourselves, as it were, for others. This ‘breaking bread’ became the icon, the sign for recognizing Christ and Christians. We think of Emmaus: they knew him ‘in the breaking of the bread’ (Lk 24:35). We recall the first community of Jerusalem: ‘They held steadfastly… to the breaking of the bread” (Acts 2:42). From the outset it is the Eucharist which becomes the centre and pattern of the life of the Church. But we think also of all the saints – famous or anonymous – who have “broken’ themselves, their own life, in order to ‘give something to eat’ to their brothers and sisters. How many mothers, how many fathers, together with the slices of bread they provide each day on the tables of their homes, have broken their hearts to let their children grow, and grow well! How many Christians, as responsible citizens, have broken their own lives to defend the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those discriminated! Where do they find the strength to do this? It is in the Eucharist: in the power of the Risen Lord’s love, who today too breaks bread for us and repeats: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’.”