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The wine of the feast

In reporting Benedict XVI’s Visit to Ancona the Italian media reflected on the anxiety of the Pope, Bishop of Rome and Primate of Italy, concerning the lack of employment and job security. It was an informed choice, understandable above all in this time of crisis, and one which stressed the Pontiff’s closeness — also expressed when he met some representatives of workers and of those living in the most difficult conditions — and the participation of public figures in the Papal Visit, significantly without any political affiliation.

However Benedict XVI's journey and discourses had a broader scope. As always, the Pope — who concluded the 25th Italian National Eucharistic Congress — went to the root of the matter. And he urged people to think about the historical consequences of attempts to organize society on the part of ideologies which “have aimed to organize society with the force of power and of the economy, after setting God aside”, because the result was stones in the place of bread.

Thus the primacy of God must be reestablished because man needs bread in order to live. He needs his daily bread of course, but above all he needs the true Bread which is Christ himself. Here lies the centrality of the Eucharist and of its consequences, which, to paraphrase a famous title of Jean Daniélou, could be defined as political. In fact, from the sacrament which is at the heart of the Christian faith — the Pope said — a new assumption of community responsibility comes into being and “a new positive social development is born which is centred on the person, especially the person who is poor, sick or in need”.

Benedict XVI juxtaposed to his meditation on bread at the meeting with engaged couples — an unusual gathering, as was the other one that gathered married couples and priests in the cathedral — a meditation on wine, the second sign of the Eucharist.

In particular, on the wine at that celebration which ran out during the wedding feast at Cana, where Jesus was a guest with his Mother. Today too, this wine has run short, but even today, as on that day, Christ wants it to be poured out for everyone; in the friendship he offers to every human being.

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St. Peter’s Square

June 18, 2019

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