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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Angelus for Corpus Christi

At noon today (Rome time), the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In Italy and in many other countries, today we are celebrating the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ - sometimes we call this Feast by it's Latin name: Corpus Domini or Corpus Christi.  Every Sunday, the ecclesial (Church) community gathers around the Eucharist, the sacrament instituted by Jesus in the Last Supper.  However, every year we have the joy of celebrating the feast dedicated to this mystery that is so central to the faith,to express the fullness of our adoration of Christ who gives himself to us as saving food and drink.

Today's gospel passage, taken from the writings of Saint John, is a part of the bread of life discourse (cf Jn 6:51-58).  Jesus affirms: I am the living bread that has come down from heaven ... The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world (Jn 6:51).  He wants to say that the Father has sent him into the world as food for eternal life, and that for this reason, he will sacrifice himself, his flesh.  In fact, on the cross, Jesus gave his body and poured out his blood.  The crucified Son of man is the true paschal Lamb who brings us out of slavery to sin and supports us on our journey to the promised land.  The Eucharist is the Sacrament of his body given for the life of the world; those who eat of this food remain in Jesus and live for Him.  Making him part of us in this way means being in Him, becoming children of the Son of God.

In the Eucharist, Jesus - as he did with the disciples from Emmaus - comes close to us, walks beside us on our pilgrimage through history, to feed faith, hope and charity within us; to comfort us in our moments of trial; to support us in our commitment to justice and peace.  This solidarity with the Son of God is everywhere: in cities and in countrysides, in the North and the South of the world, in traditionally Christian countries and in those that are still being evangelized.  In the Eucharist, Jesus offers himself as spiritual strength to help us put his commandment into practice - to love one another as He has loved us - by creating welcoming communities that are open to the needs of all people, especially those who are most fragile, poor and in need.

Nourishing ourselves with the Eucharistic Jesus also means abandoning ourselves to Him in trust and allowing ourselves to be guided by Him.  It is a matter of welcoming Jesus instead of insisting on focusing on myself.  In this way, love freely received from Jesus in Eucharistic communion, through the work of the Holy Spirit, nourishes our love for God and for the brothers and sisters we meet along our everyday journey.  Fed by the Body of Christ, we become more and more concretely part of the mystical Body of Christ.  The Apostle Paul reminds us: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ?  And the bread that we share, is it not a communion with the body of Christ?  Since there is only one bread, though we are many, we are one body: we all share the one bread (1 Cor 10:16-17).

May the Virgin Mary, who was always united to Jesus, the Bread of Life, help us to rediscover the beauty  of the Eucharist, to nourish ourselves with the gift of faith, so that we can live in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.

After the recitation the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

The day after tomorrow will be the World Day of Refugees, organized by the United Nations. The theme this year is With refugees.  Today more than every we must be on the side of refugees.  This is the theme.  Concretely their attention is fixed on women, men, children who are fleeing from conflict, violence and persecution.  Let us also remember in our prayers those who have lost their lives in the sea or in difficult over-land travels.  May their stories of suffering and of hope can become occasions for fraternal encounter and for knowing one another.  In fact, personal encounters with refugees help to free us from our fears and distorted ideologies, so that we can become agents for growth in humanity, able to make space for feelings of openness and for building bridges.  I express my closeness to the beloved people of Portugal, where a devastating fire has burned the forests in Pedrógão Grande, claimed the lives of many victims and left many wounded.  Let us pray for them in silence.

I wish to greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims, especially those who have come from the Seychelles Islands, from Seville (Spain) and from Umuarama and Toledo (Brazil).  I greet the faithful from Naples, Arzano and Santa Caterina di Pedara.

A special greeting to the highly gifted delegation from the Central African Republic and from the United Nations who are here in Rome for a meeting which has been organized by the Community of Sant'Egidio.  In my heart, I still carry memories of my visit in November 2015 to that country and I hope that, with the help of God and the good will of all peoples, the peace process will be relaunched and strengthened to create the conditions necessary for development.

This evening, in the square outside Saint John in Lateran, I will celebrate Mass.  This will be followed by a procession with the Blessed Sacrament that will end at Saint Mary Major.  I invite you all to participate, physically and spiritually, including all the cloistered communities, people who are sick and those who are imprisoned.  Radio and television transmissions will also help us to do this.

And next Tuesday, I will make a pilgrimage to Bozzolo and Barbiana, to render homage to Don Primo Mazzolari and Don Lorenzo Milani, the two priests who offer us a message which we need very much these days.  In this case too, I wish to thank many people, especially priests who are accompanying me with their prayers.

I wish you all a good Sunday ... and please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!
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