At midday today, Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Holy Father Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square.
The following are the Pope’s words of introduction to the Marian prayer:
Before the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good day!
Today, in Italy and in other nations, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi, is celebrated. In the second Reading of today’s liturgy, Saint Paul describes the Eucharistic celebration (see 1 Cor 10:16-17). He highlights two effects of the shared chalice and the broken bread: the mystical effect and the communal effect.
First, the Apostle states that: “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?” (v. 16). These words express the mystical, or let us say, spiritual effect of the Eucharist: it relates to the union with Christ, who in the bread and the wine offers Himself for the salvation of all. Jesus is present in the sacrament of the Eucharist to be our nourishment, to be assimilated and to become in us that renewing force that gives once again the energy and the desire to set out again after every pause or after every fall. But this requires our assent, our willingness to let ourselves be transformed – our way of thinking and acting. Otherwise the Eucharistic celebrations in which we participate are reduced to empty and formal rites. And many times, someone goes to Mass because they have to go, as if it is a social event, respectful but social. But the mystery is something else. It is Jesus who is present, who comes to nourish us.
The second effect is the communal one and is expressed by Saint Paul in these words: “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body” (v. 17). It is the mutual communion of those who participate in the Eucharist, to the point of becoming one body together, in the same way that one loaf is broken and distributed. We are a community, nourished by the body and blood of Christ. Communion with the body of Christ is an effective sign of unity, of communion, of sharing. One cannot participate in the Eucharist without committing oneself to mutual fraternity – that it be sincere. But the Lord knows well that our human strength alone is not enough for this. On the contrary, He knows that there will always be the temptation of rivalry, envy, prejudice, division ... among His disciples. We are all aware of all these things. For this reason too He left us the Sacrament of His real, tangible and permanent Presence, so that, remaining united to Him, we may always receive the gift of fraternal love. “Remain in my love” (Jn 15:9), Jesus said. And it is possible thanks to the Eucharist. Remain in friendship, in love.
This dual fruit of the Eucharist: first, union with Christ and second, communion between those who are nourished by Him, generates and continually renews the Christian community. It is the Church that makes the Eucharist, but it is more fundamental that the Eucharist makes the Church, and allows her to be her mission, even before she accomplishes it. This is the mystery of communion, of the Eucharist: to receive Jesus so He might transform us from within and to receive Jesus so that in Him we might be united, not divided.
May the Blessed Virgin help us to always welcome with wonder and gratitude the great gift that Jesus gave us by leaving us the Sacrament of His Body and His Blood.
After the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am following the dramatic situation in Libya with great apprehension and sorrow. It has been present in my prayer in recent days. Please, I urge international bodies and those who have political and military responsibilities to recommence with conviction and resolve the search for a path towards an end to the violence, leading to peace, stability and unity in the country. I also pray for the thousands of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons in Libya. The health situation has aggravated the already precarious conditions in which they find themselves, making them more vulnerable to forms of exploitation and violence. There is cruelty. I call on the international community to please take their plight to heart, identifying pathways and providing means to provide them with the protection they need, a dignified condition and a hopeful future. Brothers and sisters, we are all responsible for this. No one can consider him or herself dispensed from this. Let us all pray for Libya in silence.
Today is World Blood Donor Day. It is an opportunity to encourage society to be in solidarity and sensitivity to those in need. I greet the volunteers present and express my appreciation to all those who perform this simple but very important act of helping others: to donate blood.
I greet all of you, members of the faithful from Rome and pilgrims. I wish you, and all those connected via the media, a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch, and arrivederci.