Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “As he did with the disciples of Emmaus, in the Eucharist Jesus helps us, pilgrims in history, to nurture us in faith, hope and charity, to comfort us in our trials, to support us in the work for justice and peace,” said Pope Francis in his reflection to the faithful in St Peter’s Square before the Angelus.
The Holy Father emphasised the Eucharist because Corpus Christi is celebrated today in Italy and in many countries (traditionally it is celebrated on the second Thursday after Pentecost). This feast, said Francis, expresses “fully our worship of Christ who gives himself as food and drink of salvation.”
“Jesus gave his body and shed his blood on the cross. The Son of the Crucified Man is the true Paschal Lamb, who brings out of the slavery of sin and supports us on the path to the promised land. The Eucharist is the sacrament of his flesh given to make the world live; whomever feeds on this food remains in Jesus and lives for Him. To assimilate Jesus means being in Him, becoming children in the Son . . . The supportive presence of the Son of God is everywhere: in the cities and in the countryside, in the North and in the South of the world, in countries of Christian tradition and in those of nascent evangelisation.”
“In the Eucharist,” Francis went on to say, “He offers himself as a spiritual force to help us put into practice his commandment, to love ourselves as He loved us, and to build communities friendly and open to the needs of everyone, especially the most fragile people, the poor and needy.”
“Feeding on Jesus the Eucharist also means abandoning ourselves with confidence to Him and allowing ourselves to be led by Him. It is about welcoming Jesus instead of our ‘ego’. This way, the free love received from Christ in the Eucharistic Communion, with the work of the Holy Spirit, nourishes our love for God and for the brothers and sisters we meet on the path of every day. Nourished by the Body of Christ, we become more and more intimately and concretely the mystical Body of Christ. As the Apostle Paul reminds us: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (1 Cor, 10: 16-17).”
After the Marian prayer, the Pontiff mentioned that in two-days time, 20 June, it will be World Refugee Day sponsored by the United Nations, whose theme this year is ‘With Refugees. Now more than ever we need to stand with Refugees.’
“Concrete attention goes to women, men, and children fleeing conflicts, violence and persecution,” the pope said. “Let us also remember in our prayers all those who lost their lives in the sea or in exhausting journeys over land. May their stories of pain and hope become opportunities for brotherly meetings and true mutual knowledge. Indeed, meeting refugees in person dissipates distorted fears and ideologies, and becomes a factor of growth in humanity, able to make room for feelings of openness and bridge building.”
Before he concluded his address, Francis mentioned two items on the coming week’s agenda: the first is on 20 June when he will go on pilgrimage to Bozzolo (Mantova) and Barbiana (Florence) “to pay tribute to Don Primo Mazzolari and Don Lorenzo Milani”, whose testimony “the world still needs today”, he said.
Don Primo Mazzolari (1890-1959) was a pastor, writer, partisan, defender of the weak above all rightwing or leftwing ideologies. Often forced into silence by the Church itself, he was valued in the final years of his life by Paul VI, then Cardinal of Milan, and John XXIII.
Don Lorenzo Milani (1923-1967) was a pastor, writer, and educator. He is remembered for his social and educational outreach towards adults and farmers. His book Letter to a Teacher was the basis for reform in education and inspired the student movements of the 1960s. He too had several run-ins with the powers-that-be.
Finally, Pope Francis noted that tonight at 7 pm, on the parvis of the St John in Lateran Church, he will celebrate the Mass of Corpus Domini, followed by the procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the basilica of Saint Mary Major. “I invite everyone to participate,” said the pope, “spiritually as well. I think in particular of the enclosed communities, the sick and prison inmates. Radio and television can help in this regard.”