Pope Francis has challenged Catholics to consider if they allow their lives to be transformed by Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.
Speaking yesterday to a congregation of about 20,000 people, on the Feast of Corpus Christi outside the Basilica of St John Lateran, Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to ask if the Eucharist is a “moment of true communion with the Lord, but also with my many brothers and sisters who share at this same altar?” and if when “adoring Christ truly present in the Eucharist, do I allow myself to be transformed by him?”
Following Mass, Pope Francis led a candlelight Corpus Christi Procession on foot through the streets of Rome, from the Basilica of St John Lateran to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, just over a mile away.
The monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament was carried on the lorry that Blessed John Paul II began using in 1994 when he could no longer walk the full mile. Pope Benedict XVI participated in the procession each year,riding in the truck, kneeling before the Eucharist.
During his homily Pope Francis said: “Jesus speaks in the silence of the mystery of the Eucharist and reminds us each time that following him means going out of ourselves and making our lives not something we ‘possess,’ but a gift to him and to others.”
Focusing his homily on the Gospel of Luke’s account of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the Pope said gathering around Jesus, listening to his word and being nourished by him transforms the multitude of anonymous individuals into a community of faith where people share who they are and what they have.
Pope Francis said: “The Eucharist is the sacrament of the communion that takes us out of our individualism so that together we live our discipleship, our faith in him.”
The pope said he is “always struck” by the disciples asking Jesus to send the crowd away to find food and lodging and Jesus telling him, “give them some food yourselves.”
Pope Francis said: “In the face of the crowd’s needs, this is the disciples’ solution: Everyone takes care of himself; dismiss the crowd. Many times we Christians have that same temptation; we don’t take on the needs of others,but dismiss them with a compassionate ‘May God help you’ or a not-so-compassionate ‘Good luck.’”
Jesus’ solution, though, was to ask God’s blessing on the little food available, then to have the disciples share it with crowd, he said. He continued: “It is a moment of profound communion: the crowd quenched by the word of the Lord is now nourished by his bread of life, and all had their fill.”
What Jesus encouraged the disciples to do was an act of “solidarity,” he said, which is nothing other than “placing at God’s disposal what little we have, our humble abilities, because only in sharing and in giving will our lives be fruitful.”
In the Eucharist, the Pope said, Catholics experience the “solidarity of God,” a solidarity that can never be exhausted and should never stop causing awe.
Pope Francis said: “Once again this evening, Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist, shares our journey and, in fact, makes himself the food that sustains our lives, even when the road gets rough and obstacles slow our steps.”
At the same time, he said, in receiving the Eucharist faithfully “the Lord leads us to follow his path — that of service, sharing and giving; and that little that we have, the little that we are, if shared, becomes a treasure because the power of God, who is love, descends to our poverty and transforms it.”