Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The Eucharist is Jesus who gives himself entirely to us. Feeding on Him and living in Him through the Holy Communion, if we do it with faith, transform our life into a gift to God and to [our] brothers and sisters,” said Pope Francis before the Angelus in St Peter's Square, as he commented the Gospel of today’s Sunday Mass (the 20th in Ordinary Time, B: John, 6: 51-58), centred on Jesus as the “‘bread of life,’ which is himself and the sacrament of the Eucharist."
The pope explained the meaning of the Eucharist by examining some questions. "Jesus,” he said, “uses the style of the prophets to make people, and us, ask some questions and ultimately reach a decision."
The first question is "What does ‘eating the flesh and drinking the blood’ of Jesus mean?” in his answer, the pontiff noted "what happens in Jesus’ heart when he breaks the bread for the hungry crowd. Knowing that he will have to die on the cross for us, Jesus identifies himself with the broken and shared bread; for him, it becomes the 'sign' of the sacrifice that awaits him.”
“This process culminates in the Last Supper, where the bread and wine really become his Body and his Blood. It is the Eucharist that Jesus leaves us with a precise purpose, namely that we may become one with Him. In fact, he says, ' Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him' (John, 6:56). Communion is assimilation. By eating Him, we become like Him. But this requires our 'yes', our adherence of faith."
To reiterate once again the sense of the "real presence" of Jesus in the Eucharist, the pope asks another question: "What is the Mass? Do I go to church when I feel it, and pray better in solitude?"
"The Eucharist,” he said in answering, “is not a private prayer or a beautiful spiritual experience. It is not just a commemoration of what Jesus did at the Last Supper. The Eucharist is a ‘memorial,’ i.e. a deed that realises and makes present the event of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The bread is really the Body he gave, and the wine is really the Blood he shed.”
“The Eucharist is Jesus who gives himself entirely to us. Feeding on Him and living in Him through the Holy Communion, if we do it with faith, transform our life into a gift to God and to [our] brothers and sisters. Feeding on this ‘bread of life’ means becoming attuned to Christ’s heart, and assimilate his choices, thoughts, and behaviour. It means entering into a momentum of selfless love and become people of peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, and sharing in solidarity."
Finally, Francis explained the sense of what Jesus meant when he said, "whoever eats this bread will live forever" (John, 6:58). For the Holy Father, “Living in a concrete, real communion with Jesus on this earth already makes us pass from death to life. Thus, we close our eyes to this world in the certainty that the last day we shall hear the voice of the Risen Lord calling us, and we shall awaken to be always with him and the great family of the saints. In Heaven, our Mother Mary – whose mystery we celebrated yesterday - is waiting for us. May she achieve for us the grace to feed us always with faith in Jesus, the bread of life."