Pope in Ostia: Corpus Domini, Jesus prepares us a place and a meal and asks us to 'prepare'
Breaking with Vatican tradition, Pope Francis celebrated the solemnity in the that city that had received Pope VI in visit. The Eucharist is “the bread that sates our greatest expectations and feeds our finest dreams. It is, in a word, the pledge of eternal life.” At the same time, “We, who receive from Jesus our own room and board, are here to prepare a place and a meal for these, our brothers and sisters in need.” Lonely, troubled and needy people are “abandoned tabernacles.” For the pontiff, “Jesus wants the walls of indifference and silent collusion to be breached, iron bars of oppression and arrogance torn asunder, and paths cleared for justice, civility and legality.”
Ostia (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated the Mass for Corpus Christi in the town of Ostia, about 40 kilometres south-west of Rome, on the coast. In his homily, the pontiff said that in the Eucharist, Jesus prepares for us "a place and meal" and “room and board". At the same time, Jesus also asks his disciples "to prepare".
Usually, the solemnity of Corpus Domini is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. That would have been 31 May. However, the Holy Father decided to celebrate it today, Sunday – like it is done in Italy and many parts of the world – in the place where, 50 years ago, Paul VI celebrated Corpus Domini and blessed the first stone of the Church of Saint Monica (mother of Saint Augustine, who died in Ostia).
Francis celebrated Mass on the square in front of that church. Ostia is one of those "edges" or “peripheries” so dear to Francesco, since it suffers from neglect, criminality and organised crime. The pontiff’s homily hinted at this when he said: “You have experienced painful situations; the Lord wants to be close to you. Let us open our doors”.
In the Eucharist, he said earlier, Jesus prepares for us a “place and a meal”. The place is “the Church, where there is, and must be, room for everyone”. But he added, “the Eucharist also prepares for us a place on high, in eternity, for it is the Bread of heaven. It comes down from heaven – it is the only matter on earth that savours of eternity. It is the bread of things to come; even now, it grants us a foretaste of a future infinitely greater than all we can hope for or imagine. It is the bread that sates our greatest expectations and feeds our finest dreams. It is, in a word, the pledge of eternal life”.
“Dear brothers and sisters, let us choose this food of life! Let us make Mass our priority! Let us rediscover Eucharistic adoration in our communities! Let us implore the grace to hunger for God, with an insatiable desire to receive what he has prepared for us.”
The faithful too are asked to “prepare” the dinner. The pope explained “where”, namely “those uncomfortable places are where he wants to go and he asks us to prepare his way. How many persons lack dignified housing or food to eat! All of us know people who are lonely, troubled and in need: they are abandoned tabernacles. We, who receive from Jesus our own room and board, are here to prepare a place and a meal for these, our brothers and sisters in need. Jesus became bread broken for our sake; in turn, he asks us to give ourselves to others, to live no longer for ourselves but for one another. In this way, we live ‘eucharistically’, pouring out upon the world the love we draw from the Lord’s flesh. The Eucharist is translated into life when we pass beyond ourselves to those all around us.”
“The Lord calls us also today to prepare for his coming not by keeping our distance but by entering our cities. That includes this city, whose very name – Ostia – means entrance, doorway. Lord, how many doors do you want us to open for you here? How many gates do you call us to unbar, how many walls must we tear down? Jesus wants the walls of indifference and silent collusion to be breached, iron bars of oppression and arrogance torn asunder, and paths cleared for justice, civility and legality.”
Speaking about the procession of the Holiest Sacrament after the Mass, Francis said, “At the end of Mass, we too will go out; we will go forth with Jesus, who will pass through the streets of this city. Jesus wants to dwell among you. He wants to be part of your lives, to enter your houses and to offer his liberating mercy, his blessing and his consolation.”
At the end of the Mass, the procession set off with the Blessed Sacrament held up by Mgr Angelo De Donatis, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, making its way through some streets in the neighbourhood, ending near the parish of Our Lady of Bonaria. Here the Pope imparted the Eucharistic blessing, welcomed with a thunderous applause from the faithful.