After praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday, 19 June, Pope Francis made an appeal to remember the cry of pain of the people who suffer in Myanmar and Ukraine. Earlier, he had reflected on the Sunday Gospel of the multiplication of the loaves, and the significance of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s reflection.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Buongiorno and Happy Sunday!
Today, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is being celebrated in Italy and in other countries. Instituted during the Last Supper, the Eucharist was like the destination of a journey in which Jesus had prefigured it through several signs, above all the multiplication of the loaves narrated in the Gospel of today’s Liturgy (cf. Lk 9:11b-17). Jesus takes care of the huge crowd that had followed him to listen to his word and to be freed from various evils. He blesses five loaves and two fish, breaks them, the disciples distribute them, and “they all ate and were satisfied” (Lk 9:17), the Gospel says. In the Eucharist, everyone can experience this loving and concrete attention of the Lord. Those who receive the Body and Blood of Christ with faith not only eat, but are satisfied. To eat and to be satisfied: these are two basic necessities that are fulfilled in the Eucharist.
To eat. “They all ate”, writes Saint Luke. As evening falls, the disciples counsel Jesus to dismiss the crowd so they can go in search of food. But the Teacher wants to provide for that too — he also wants to feed those who had listened to him. The miracle of the loaves and fish does not happen in a spectacular way, but almost discreetly, like the wedding at Cana — the bread increases as it passes from hand to hand. And as the crowd eats, they realize that Jesus is taking care of everything. This is the Lord present in the Eucharist. He calls us to be citizens of Heaven, but at the same time, he takes into account the journey we have to face here on earth. If I have hardly any bread in my sack, he knows and takes care of it himself.
Sometimes, there is the risk of confining the Eucharist to a vague, distant dimension, perhaps bright and perfumed with incense, but distant from the straits of everyday life. In reality, the Lord takes all our needs to heart, beginning with the most basic. And he wants to set the example for his disciples, by saying, “You give them something to eat” (v. 13), to those people who had listened to him during the day. Our Eucharistic adoration comes alive when we take care of our neighbour like Jesus does. There is hunger for food around us, but also for companionship; there is hunger for consolation, friendship, good humour; there is hunger for attention, there is hunger to be evangelized. We find this in the Eucharistic Bread — Christ’s attention to our needs and the invitation to do the same toward those who are beside us. We need to eat and feed others.
In addition to eating, however, we cannot forget being satisfied. The crowd is satisfied because of the abundance of food and also because of the joy and amazement of having received it from Jesus! We certainly need to nourish ourselves, but we also need to be satisfied, to know that the nourishment is given to us out of love. In the Body and Blood of Christ, we find his presence, his life given for each of us. He not only gives us help to go forward, but he gives us himself — he makes himself our travelling companion, he enters into our affairs, he visits us when we are lonely, giving us back a sense of enthusiasm. This satisfies us, when the Lord gives meaning to our life, to our darkness, our doubts. But he sees the meaning, and this meaning that the Lord gives satisfies us. This gives us that “more” that we all seek — namely, the presence of the Lord! For in the warmth of his presence, our lives change. Without him, everything would truly be grey. Adoring the Body and Blood of Christ, let us ask him with our heart: “Lord, give me the daily bread to go forward, Lord, satisfy me with your presence!”.
May the Virgin Mary teach us how to adore Jesus, alive in the Eucharist, and to share him with our brothers and sisters.
After the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:
Dear brothers and sisters, yesterday in Seville, some religious of the Dominican family were beatified: Ángel Marina Álvarez and 19 companions; Juan Aguilar Donis and four companions, of the Order of Preachers; Isabel Sánchez Romero, an elderly nun of the Order of Saint Dominic; and Fructuoso Pérez Márquez, Dominican tertiary layperson. They were all killed in hatred of the faith in the religious persecution that took place in Spain in the context of last century’s civil war. Their witness of adhesion to Christ and forgiveness for their killers show us the way to holiness and encourage us to make our lives an offering of love to God and to our brothers and sisters. Let us applaud the new Blesseds!
Again from Myanmar comes the cry of pain of many people who lack basic humanitarian assistance and who are forced to leave their burnt-down homes and flee violence. I join the appeal of the bishops of that beloved land, that the international community may not forget the Burmese people, that human dignity and the right to life be respected, as well as places of worship, hospitals and schools. And I bless the Burmese community in Italy, represented here today.
Next Wednesday, 22 June, the Tenth World Meeting of Families will begin. It will take place in Rome and at the same time throughout the world. I thank the bishops, parish priests and family pastoral workers who have called families to moments of reflection, celebration and festivity. Above all, I thank the married couples and families who will bear witness to family love as a vocation and a way to holiness. Have a good meeting!
And now I greet all of you, people of Rome and pilgrims from various countries, especially the students of the London Oratory School. I greet the participants in the first course on pastoral care for the welcoming and care of new life; the faithful of Gragnano and the “Pedale Sestese” cyclists’ association of Sesto San Giovanni. At this time, let us not forget the martyred people of Ukraine, a people that is suffering. I would like you all to keep in mind a question: what am I doing today for the Ukrainian people? Do I pray? Am I doing something? Do I try to understand? What am I doing today for the Ukrainian people? Each one of you, answer in your own heart.
I wish you all a happy Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!