Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Eucharist is "the source of love for the life of the Church", and "a school of charity and solidarity," said Pope Francis before the Angelus today, as he explained the feast day of the Body and Blood of Christ, which the Vatican celebrated last Thursday, 4 June, but which is celebrated this Sunday in Italy and other parts of the world.
"When we take and eat this bread,” said the pope, “we become associated with the life of Jesus; we enter into communion with Him; we become committed to achieve communion among ourselves, and transform our life into a gift, especially for the poorest".
Here, the pope is referring to the Gospel in today's Mass (Mark 14:12-16:22-26) that describes the institution of the Eucharist: "While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is my body’ (Mark 14:22)”. With this gesture and these words, He gave bread a function that is no longer that of simple physical nourishment, but turned it into a person amid the community of believers."
"The Last Supper,” the pope added, “is the culmination of Christ’s entire life. It is not only anticipation of his sacrifice that will be accomplished on the cross, but it is also the synthesis of a life offered for the salvation of all of humanity. Therefore, it is not enough to say that the Eucharist is Jesus. Instead, we must see in it the presence of a life given and participate in it."
"Today's celebration,” the pontiff went on to say, “evokes this message of solidarity and encourages us to embrace the intimate call to conversion, service, love and forgiveness. It encourages us to become, with life, imitators of what we celebrate in the liturgy. Christ, who nourishes us in the form of consecrated bread and wine, is the same one who comes to meet us in the daily events. He is in the poor man who extends the hand; he is the sufferer who implores for help; he is the brother who asks for our availability and expects our welcome. He is in the child who knows nothing of Jesus, and salvation, who has no faith. He is in every human being, including the smallest and the defenceless."
"The Eucharist, the source of love for life of the Church, is a school of charity and solidarity. Whoever eats the Bread of Christ cannot remain indifferent to those who do not have their daily bread. This, we know, is a growing problem, despite the efforts by the international community and many organisations. We need to identify specific proposals and plans to solve its structural causes."
"May the feast of Corpus Christi,” said Francis in concluding, “inspire and nurture more and more in each of us the desire and the commitment to a welcoming and supportive society. Let us place these wishes in the heart of the Virgin Mary, Woman of the Eucharist. May she awake in everyone the joy of participating in the Mass, especially on Sundays, and the joyful courage to witness the infinite love of Christ."
After the Marian prayer, Francis talked about the trip he made yesterday to Bosnia and Herzegovina "as a pilgrim of peace and hope."
"I appreciated the commitment by people of different religions to working together and solidarity,” he said among other things, and “urged everyone to continue the work of spiritual and moral reconstruction of society. May the Lord bless Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina."
Before the final greetings to the pilgrims from all over the world, Francis said that 12 June is the World Day Against Child Labour.
"So many children in the world,” he noted, “do not have the freedom to play and go to school; they end up exploited as cheap labour. I hope that the international community will remain constantly committed to promoting the active recognition of children's rights".
Earlier he mentioned that next Friday, 12 June, is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. "Our thoughts are about this love,” he said, “and how much he loved us."