Pope Francis walks in the annual Corpus Christi procession in Rome May 30. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Yesterday evening in Rome Pope Francis celebrated Mass for
the Feast of Corpus Christi outside of the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
Following the Mass the Holy Father led the faithful in a candle-lit Eucharistic
procession to the Basilica of St. Mary Major for Benediction. He walked the route, a little
less than a mile, in a departure from the practice of Popes Benedict and John
Paul II; according
to Vatican Radio, Francis’ two predecessors rode, kneeling, in the truck
transporting the Blessed Sacrament.
Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ homily from the
Corpus Christi Mass, translated by Vatican Radio.
Dear brothers and sisters,
In the Gospel we have just heard, there is an expression of
Jesus that always strikes me: “Give you them to eat. (Lk 9:13)” Starting from
this sentence, I let myself be guided by three words: discipleship, fellowship
1. First of all: who are those to whom we are to give to eat?
The answer is found at the beginning of the Gospel: it is the crowd, the
multitude. Jesus is in the midst of the people: He welcomes them, talks to
them, He cures them, He shows them the mercy of God. In their midst, he chooses
the twelve Apostles to be with Him, and like Him, to immerse themselves in the
concrete situations of the world. People follow Him, listen to Him, because
Jesus speaks and acts in a new way, with the authority of someone who is
authentic and consistent, who speaks and acts with truth, who gives the hope
that comes from God, who is revelation of the face of a God who is love - and
the people with joy, bless God.
This evening we are the crowd of [which] the Gospel [tells]:
let us also strive to follow Jesus to listen to him, to enter into communion
with Him in the Eucharist, to accompany Him and in order that He accompany us.
Let us ask ourselves: how do I follow Jesus? Jesus speaks in silence in the
Mystery of the Eucharist and every time reminds us that to follow Him means to
come out of ourselves and make of our own lives, not a possession, but a gift
to Him and to others.
2. Let us take a step forward: whence is born the invitation
that Jesus makes to his disciples to feed the multitude themselves? It is born
from two elements: first, the crowd, having followed Jesus, now finds itself in
the open, away from inhabited areas, as evening falls, and then, because of the
concern of the disciples, who asked Jesus to dismiss the crowd, that they might
seek food and lodging in the nearby towns (cf. Lk 9:12). Faced with the
neediness of the crowd, the solution of the disciples is that every man should
take care of himself: “Dismiss the crowd!” [the disciples say]. How many times
do we Christians have this temptation! We do not care for the needs of others,
dismissing them with a pitiful, “God help you.” Jesus’ solution, on the other
hand, goes in another direction, a direction that surprises the disciples: [He
says], “You give them something to eat.”
But how is it that we are to feed a multitude? “We have only
five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.” But
Jesus is not discouraged. He asks the disciples to seat people in communities
of fifty people, He raises his eyes to heaven, recites the blessing, breaks the
loaves, and gives them to the disciples for distribution.
It is a moment of profound communion: the crowd, whose thirst
has been quenched by the word of the Lord, is now nourished by His bread of
life and they all ate their fill, the Evangelist tells us.
Pope Francis holds a monstrance during the observance of the feast of Corpus Christi at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome May 30. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
This evening, we too are gathered around the Lord’s table,
the table of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which He gives us once again His
body, makes present the one sacrifice of the Cross. It is in listening to his
Word, in nourishing ourselves with his Body and his Blood, that He makes us go
from being a multitude to being a community, from [being strangers] to being
[in] communion. The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion, which brings us
out from individualism to live together our journey in His footsteps, our faith
in Him. We ought, therefore, to 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, [and] also with many brothers and sisters who share this same table?
How are our Eucharistic celebrations?
3. A final element: whence is born the multiplication of the
loaves? The answer lies in the invitation of Jesus to his disciples: “You
yourselves give [to them]...,” “give,” share. What do the disciples share? What
little they have: five loaves and two fishes. But it is precisely those loaves
and fishes that in God’s hands feed the whole crowd.
And it is the disciples, bewildered by the inability of their
means, by the poverty of what they have at their disposal, who invite the
people to sit down, and trusting the Word of Jesus distribute the loaves
and fishes that feed the crowd. This tells us that in the Church, but also in
society, a keyword that we need not fear is “solidarity,” that is, knowing how
to place what we have at God’s disposal: our humble abilities, because [it is]
only in the sharing, in the giving of them, that our lives will be fecund, will
bear fruit. Solidarity: a word upon which the spirit of the world looks unkindly!
Tonight, once again, the Lord distributes for us the bread
which is His body, He makes a gift of Himself. We, too, are experiencing the
“solidarity of God” with man, a solidarity that never runs out, a solidarity
that never ceases to amaze us: God draws near to us; in the sacrifice of the
Cross He lowers Himself, entering into the darkness of death in order to give
us His life, which overcomes evil, selfishness, death.
Jesus this evening gives Himself to us in the Eucharist,
shares our same journey indeed, He becomes food, real food that sustains our
life even at times when the going is rough, when obstacles slow down our steps.
The Lord in the Eucharist makes us follow His path, that of service, of
sharing, of giving 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 this evening, adoring the Christ truly
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 my little
fence, to get out and be not afraid to give, to share, to love Him and others?
Discipleship, communion and sharing. Let us pray
that participation in the Eucharist move us always to follow the Lord every
day, to be instruments of communion, to share with Him and with our neighbor
who we are. Then our lives will be truly fruitful. Amen.