Here is the text of the Holy Father’s homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (
Corpus Christi) which took place in the
square in front of the Basilica of Lateran. After the Mass, Pope Francis presided
over the Eucharistic Procession that lead to the Papal basilica of St. Mary
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the Gospel we heard, there is an expression of Jesus’ that always strikes me: «You give them something to eat “(Lk 9:13). Starting from this sentence, I will allow myself be guided by three words: discipleship, communion, sharing.
1. First of all: who are those to be fed? The answer is found at the beginning of the Gospel: the crowds, the multitude. Jesus is in the midst of people, he welcomes them, speaks to them, cures them, he shows them the mercy of God; from among them he chooses Twelve Apostles to be with Him and immerse themselves, like Him, in the concrete situations of the world. And the people follow Him, they listen to Him, because Jesus speaks and acts in a new way, with the authority of someone who is genuine and consistent, who speaks and acts with truth, who gives the hope that comes from God, who is the revelation of the Face of a God who is love. And the people joyfully bless God.
Tonight we are the crowd of the Gospel, we seek to follow Jesus to listen to him, to enter into communion with him in the Eucharist, to accompany him and so that he may accompany us. Let us ask ourselves: how do I follow I Jesus? Jesus speaks in silence in the mystery of the Eucharist and each time reminds us that following him means coming out of ourselves and making our life not our own, but a gift to him and to the others.
2. Let’s go further: where does Jesus’ invitation come from, for the disciples themselves to feed the multitude? It stems from two factors: first of all from the crowd that, following Jesus, finds itself outdoors, away from the towns, while evening is approaching, and then from the disciples’ concern to ask Jesus to dismiss the crowd so that they can go into the neighboring territories to find food and lodging (cf. Lk 9:12). Faced with the needs of the crowd, this is the disciples’ solution: every man for himself; dismiss the crowd! Every man for himself; dismiss the crowd! How often do we Christians have this temptation! We do not care about other’s needs, and dismiss them with a pitiful: “May God help you”, or with a not so pitiful: “Good luck”, and if I don’t see you anymore … But Jesus’ solution goes in another direction, one that surprises his disciples: “You yourselves give them something to eat.” But how can we feed a multitude? “We only have five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people» (Lk 9:13). But Jesus is not discouraged: he asks the disciples to make the people sit in communities of fifty people, raises his eyes to heaven, recites the blessing, breaks the loaves and gives them to the disciples to distribute them (cf. Lk 9:16).
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 of them were filled, notes the Evangelist (cf. Lk 9:17). This evening, we too are around the Lord’s table, the table of the Eucharistic sacrifice, in which he gives us once again his body, he makes present the one sacrifice of the cross. It is in listening to his Word, in nourishing ourselves on his body and his blood, that he makes us go from a multitude to being a community, from anonymity to communion. The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion, that makes us come out from our individualism to live together our discipleship, our faith in him. Then we should all ask ourselves before the Lord: how do I live the Eucharist? Do I live it anonymously or as a moment of true communion with the Lord, but also with all our brothers and sisters who share this same table? What are our Eucharistic celebrations like?
3. One last element: what generates the multiplication of the loaves? The answer lies in Jesus’ invitation to the disciples “You give… “, “give “, share. What do the disciples share? What little they have: five loaves and two fishes. But it is precisely those loaves and fishes in the hands of the Lord that feed the whole crowd. And it is precisely these disciples, distressed when faced with the inability of their means, the poverty of what they can offer, who get the people to sit down and who distribute – trusting Jesus’ word – the loaves and fishes that feed the crowd. And this tells us that in the Church, but also in society, one keyword that we must not fear is ‘solidarity’, i.e. to put at God’s disposal what we have, our humble capacities, because only in sharing, in the gift, will our lives be fruitful, will they bear fruit. Solidarity: a word frowned upon by the worldly spirit!
Tonight, once again, the Lord distributes for us the bread which is his Body, he makes himself gift. And we, too, experience the “solidarity of God” with man, a solidarity that never runs out, a solidarity that never ceases to amaze us: God is near us, in the sacrifice of the cross he stoops to enter into the darkness of death to give us his life, defeating evil, selfishness and death. Jesus also this evening gives himself to us in the Eucharist, he shares our same journey, indeed, he makes himself food, the real food that sustains our lives even in times when the road becomes tough, the obstacles slow our steps. And in the Eucharist, the Lord makes us travel his path, that of service, of sharing, of gift, and what little we have, what little we are, if shared, becomes wealth, because the power of God, which is that of love, descends into our poverty to transform it.
Let us ask ourselves then this evening, worshiping Christ really present in the Eucharist: do I let myself be transformed by Him? Do I let the Lord who gives himself to me, guide me to come out more and more from behind my little fence, to go out and not be afraid to give, to share, to love him and others?
Brothers and sisters: discipleship, communion, sharing. Let us pray that the participation in the Eucharist leads us to always follow the Lord every day, to be instruments of communion, to share what we are with him and with our neighbor. Then our lives will be truly fruitful. Amen.