Rome (AsiaNews) – "Let us feel in communion with our brothers and sisters who are not free to express their faith in the Lord Jesus,” said Pope Francis. Let “us worship in our hearts with those brothers and sisters who have been asked to sacrifice their lives for fidelity to Christ: may their blood, together with that of the Lord, be a pledge of peace and reconciliation for the whole world.”
On the day of Corpus Domini, in which the Church venerates the Body and Blood of Christ, the pontiff called on the faithful to feel in communion with those who suffer and sometimes are killed because of the lack of religious freedom, the "persecuted Christians" remembered in the prayers.
“Let us sing with them, let us praise them, let us worship with them," the pope told those who followed the procession that went from the basilica of St John, the cathedral of Rome, to St Mary Major.
The communion, the Eucharist, which prevents Catholics from "coming apart" and "demeaning themselves" was the topic of the homily during the Mass Francis celebrated this evening, in the square outside the Basilica of St John. At the end, tens of thousands of faithful – among them the Roman confraternities – carried torches in procession to the Marian Basilica, where the Pope arrived in a car.
"At the Last Supper,” the pontiff said, “Jesus gave his Body and his Blood through the bread and wine, to leave us the memorial of his sacrifice of infinite love. With this ‘encouragement,’ full of grace, the disciples had everything they needed for their long journey through history, to bring to everyone the kingdom of God. By voluntarily sacrificing himself on cross, the gift that Jesus made of himself will be light and strength for them. This Bread of Life has come down to us! The Church’s amazement before this reality never ends. This amazement always nurtures contemplation, worship and memory.
“This can be seen in the beautiful text of today's Liturgy, the Responsory to the second reading of the Office of Readings, which says, ‘See in this bread the body of Christ which hung upon the cross, and in this cup the blood which flowed from his side. Take his body, then, and eat it; take his blood and drink it, and you will become his members. In order not to come apart, eat this bond of communion; to avoid demeaning yourself, drink the price of redemption.’ We ask ourselves: What does coming apart and demeaning ourselves mean? Is there a danger? Is there a threat? What does coming apart and demeaning mean today?"
"We come apart when we are not docile to the Word of the Lord, when we do not live brotherhood between us, when as climbers we race to occupy the first places, when we do not find the courage to bear witness to charity, when we are unable to offer hope. This is how we come apart. The Eucharist allows us not to come apart, because it is the bond of communion; it is the fulfilment of the Covenant, a living sign of the love of Christ who humbled and annihilated himself so that we may remain united. By participating in the Eucharist and by feeding on it, we are placed on a path that brooks no divisions. Christ, present in our midst, in the signs of bread and wine, requires that the power of love overcome every wound. At the same time, it has to become communion with the poorest, support for the weak, fraternal attention for those who struggle to put up with the weight of everyday life, and are in danger of losing their faith. "
"Then comes the other word. What does ‘demeaning ourselves’ mean to us today; does it mean watering down our Christian dignity? It means letting ourselves be affected the idolatries of our time: looks, consuming, self-centredness; competitiveness, arrogance as a winning attitude, never admitting one’s faults or that we need help. All this demeans us, makes us as Christians into mediocre , lukewarm, insipid beings; pagans."
"Jesus shed his blood as a price and as cleansing, that we might be clean from all sins. In order to avoid demeaning ourselves, we look to him, drawing water from his source, to be preserved from the risk of corruption. Thus, we shall experience the grace of a transformation. We shall always remain poor sinners, but the Blood of Christ shall deliver us from our sins and give us back our dignity. It will deliver us from corruption. With no credit to us, with sincere humility, we shall deliver the love of our Lord and Saviour to our brothers. We shall be his eyes that seek out Zacchaeus and Magdalene; we shall be his hand helping the sick in body and spirit; we shall be his heart loving those who need reconciliation, mercy and understanding. Thus, the Eucharist updates the Alliance that sanctifies us, purifies us and unites us in admirable communion with God. Thus, we learn that the Eucharist is not a reward for good deeds, but it is the strength for weak sinners, it is forgiveness, it is the encouragement that helps us walk"
“Shortly,” he said in concluding, “as we walk along the path, let us feel in communion with our brothers and sisters who are not free to express their faith in the Lord Jesus. Let us feel united with them, sing with them, praise them, and worship with them. We worship in our hearts with those brothers and sisters who have been asked to sacrifice their lives for fidelity to Christ: may their blood, together with that of the Lord, be a pledge of peace and reconciliation for the whole world. Let us not forget, that to avoid coming apart, you must eat this bond of communion, that to avoid demeaning yourself, you drink must the price of your redemption.”