Rome (AsiaNews) – In explaining the meaning of the traditional procession of Corpus Domini which he leads every year from the Basilica of St John in Lateran to that of Santa Maria Maggiore, Benedict XVI spoke of Jesus as immersed in the bustling life of modern cities, of offering the “bread of life” to the Christian community to sustain it “as it crosses the desert of this world soured by ideological and economic systems that abase rather than promote life, a world where power and a desire to possess rule, where a culture of violence and death triumphs more often than not over a world founded on the principles of service and love.”
Solemn and yet festive the ritual draws many confraternities and associations, Catholic groups dressed in traditional, sometimes old, multicoloured costumes, and people holding banners depicting sacred images largely drawn from popular religious lore, an atmosphere that encourages people to festoon their windows with tapestry and carpets or even the family’s best tablecloths.
And in the back of the long line of cardinals, bishops, priests and altar boys some 50,000 people holding candles sang as they accompanied Benedict XVI on the faldistory, the small van carrying the prie-dieu and monstrance which allows everyone to see the Pope.
“The Eucharistic Mystery is the gift Jesus Christ makes of Himself, whereby he reveals God’s infinite love for every man,” Benedict XVI said during the mass at the beginning of the procession. “Hence Corpus Domini is a unique festivity that represents an important moment of faith and praise for each Christian community.” It is a celebration “that brings us back to the spiritual atmosphere of Holy Thursday, the day when on the eve of His Passion Jesus established the Holy Eucharist in the Cenacle.”
It is “a gift” that “the Apostles got from the Lord in the privacy of the Last Supper but which was meant for all, i.e. the entire world. Hence it must be proclaimed and openly displayed so that everyone can meet ‘Jesus walking by” as it was once possible in the streets of Galilee, Samaria and Judea. This way, as they receive it, His love can make each one whole and new again.”
The Pope quoted a passage from the Gospel of Luke about the loaves and the fish that ends with “They all ate and were satisfied” (cf Lk, 9:11b–17). “First of all,” he said, “I would like to emphasise ‘all’. The Lord wants everyone to eat the Eucharist because the Eucharist is for all” since “Christ sacrificed himself for the whole of humanity. With him in the streets and in between the houses of our City residents will be offered joy, immortal life, peace and love.”
“In the evangelical story a second element stands out,” the Holy Father said. “The miracle the Lord performed contains an explicit invitation to each one of us to make our own contribution. The five loaves and two fishes indicate our contribution, however meagre and necessary it may be, which He turns into a gift of love for all. As I wrote in the afore-mentioned Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Christ continues today to exhort his disciples to become personally engaged (n. 88).’ The Eucharist is therefore a call to holiness and gift of oneself to one’s brothers because ‘[e]ach of us is truly called, together with Jesus, to be bread broken for the life of the world (ibid.)”.
The Pope concluded saying that at “the end of the Eucharistic celebration let us join in procession, as if we were to ideally carry the Lord Jesus through all the streets and neighbourhoods of Rome. We shall immerse Him so to speak in our daily lives so that He may walk where we walk, and live where we live.”