3. History speaks of great yearning for peace, but also of the recurring disappointments humanity has had to suffer amid tears and blood. John XXIII, the Pope of Pacem in terris, died precisely today, 3 June, 36 years ago. What a unanimous chorus of praise welcomed that document which outlined the principles for building true peace in the world! But in recent years, how many times have we had to witness the outbreak of violent warfare in one part of the world or another.
The believer, however, does not give up. He knows he can always count on God's help. In this regard, Jesus' words at the Last Supper sound particularly eloquent: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 14:27). Today we want once again to welcome and understand these words in depth. Let us enter into the spirit of the Upper Room to contemplate Christ, who under the appearances of bread and wine gives his Body and his Blood, anticipating Calvary in this sacrament. This is how he gave us peace. St Paul would later remark: "He is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility ... through the cross" (Ephesians 2:14, 16).
In giving himself, Christ gave us peace. His peace is not that of the world, often made of shrewdness and compromises, and of oppression and violence. Christ's peace is the fruit of his Passover, that is, the fruit of his sacrifice which uproots hatred and violence and reconciles human beings with God and with one another; it is the trophy of his victory over sin and death, of his peaceful war against the evil of the world, a war fought and won with the weapons of truth and love.
4. It is not by chance that this greeting is frequently heard on the lips of the risen Christ. Appearing to the Apostles, he first shows the signs in his hands and side of the hard struggle he endured, and then he greets them: "Peace be with you!" (John 20:19, 21, 26). He communicates his peace to the disciples as a precious gift, not to keep jealously hidden, but to share with others through their witness.
This evening, dear friends, as we carry the Eucharist, the sacrament of Christ our Passover in procession through the streets of Rome, we will be bringing the message of that peace which he left us and which the world cannot give. As we walk, we will ask ourselves about our personal witness to peace. It is not enough, in fact, to speak of peace if we do not strive to foster sentiments of peace in our hearts and to express them in our daily relations with those who live around us.
We will carry the Eucharist in procession and raise our heartfelt prayers to the "Prince of Peace" for the neighbouring land of the Balkans, where already too much innocent blood has been shed and where too many violations have been committed against the dignity and rights of individuals and peoples.
Our prayer this evening is strengthened by the hopeful prospects which are finally emerging.
5. "The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6:51). In the Gospel passage we have just heard, these words of Jesus have helped us understand what the source of true peace is. Christ is our peace, the "bread" offered for the life of the world. He is the "bread" which God the Father prepared, so that humanity might have life and have it abundantly (cf. John 10:10).
God did not spare his Son, but gave him as the salvation of all, as the Bread we must eat if we wish to have life. Christ's words are clear: to have life it is not enough to believe in God; it is necessary to dwell in him (cf. John 5:56). This is why the Word was made flesh, died and rose and gave us his Spirit; this is why he left us the Eucharist, so that we could live on him as he lives on the Father. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the gift Christ made of himself for us: he is the sacrament of love and peace, which is the fullness of life.
6. "Living bread, who gives life!".
Lord Jesus, before you, our Passover and our peace, we commit ourselves to non-violently opposing man's violence against man.
Prostrate at your feet, O Christ, today we want to share the bread of hope with our brothers and sisters in despair; the bread of peace with our brothers and sisters tortured by ethnic cleansing and war; the bread of life with our brothers and sisters threatened each day by weapons of destruction and death.
O Christ, we want to share the living Bread of your peace with the innocent and most defenceless victims.
"We offer you this sacrifice of praise for ourselves and those who are dear to us" (Roman Canon), so that you, O Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, may be for us, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the source of life, love and peace.
MASS AND EUCHARISTIC PROCESSION
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Thursday, 30 May 2002
1. "Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem, lauda ducem et pastorem in hymnis et canticis": "Praise your Saviour, Zion, praise with hymns and canticles, Christ, your king and shepherd".
With faith and devotion we have sung these words of the traditional Sequence that forms part of the liturgy of Corpus Christi.
Today is a solemn feast, a feast on which we relive the first Sacred Supper. With a public and solemn act, we glorify and adore the Bread and the Wine become the true Body and true Blood of the Redeemer. "Signs not things are all we see", the Sequence stresses, but "here beneath these signs lie hidden priceless things".
Today we are celebrating a solemn feast that expresses the awesome wonder of the People of God: a wonder filled with gratitude for the gift of the Eucharist. In the Sacrament of the Altar, Jesus wanted to perpetuate his living presence in our midst in the same form in which he gave himself to the Apostles in the Upper Room. He left to us what he did at the Last Supper and we faithfully renew his action.
According to established custom, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi consists of two moments: the Mass, in which the offering of the Sacrifice takes place and the procession, that manifests the public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Days, years and centuries go by, but this most holy act in which Jesus condensed his entire Gospel of love does not pass away. He never ceases to offer himself, the Lamb immolated and risen, for the salvation of the world. With this memorial the Church responds to the command of God's Word, which we heard in the First Reading: "Remember ... Do not forget" (Deuteronomy 8,2.14).
The Eucharist is our living Memorial. In the Eucharist, as the Council recalls, "is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself our Pasch and the living bread which gives life to men through his flesh - that flesh which is given life and gives life through the Holy Spirit. Thus men are invited and led to offer themselves, their works and all creation with Christ ..." (Presbyterorum ordinis, n. 5).
From the Eucharist, "the source and the summit of all preaching of the Gospel" (ibid.), even our Church of Rome must daily draw the strength and enthusiasm for her missionary action and for every form of Christian witness in the world.
Good Shepherd, you will shortly pass through the streets of our city. On this feast, every city, metropolis or small village, becomes spiritually Zion, the Jerusalem who praises the Saviour: they are the new People of God, gathered from every nation and nourished with the one Bread of life.
This People has need of the Eucharist. Indeed, it is the Eucharist that makes the People a missionary Church. But is it possible without priests, who renew the Eucharistic mystery?
Young Romans! I repeat to you the words I addressed to the young people gathered at Tor Vergata during the World Youth Day 2000. "If any of you, dear young men and women hear the Lord's inner call to give yourselves completely to him in order to love him "with an undivided heart'" (cf. I Corinthians 7:34) do not be held back by doubts or fears. Say "yes' with courage and without reserve, trusting him who is faithful to his promises" (cf. Homily, n. 6).
We give you thanks, Lord, for your Eucharistic presence in the world. For us you accepted suffering and on the cross you manifested your love for all humanity to the very end. We adore you, daily viaticum for us, all pilgrims on earth.
"You who know and can do all things, who nourish us on earth, lead your brothers and sisters to the table of heaven to be fellow heirs and guests with your saints forever". Amen.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Saint Pope John Paul II, so that they could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
MASS AND EUCHARISTIC PROCESSION
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Square before the Basilica of St John Lateran
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
On the feast of Corpus Domini, the Church relives the mystery of Holy Thursday in the light of the Resurrection. There is also a Eucharistic procession on Holy Thursday, when the Church repeats the exodus of Jesus from the Upper Room to the Mount of Olives.
In Israel, the night of the Passover was celebrated in the home, within the intimacy of the family; this is how the first Passover in Egypt was commemorated, the night in which the blood of the paschal lamb, sprinkled on the crossbeam and doorposts of the houses, served as protection against the destroyer.
On that night, Jesus goes out and hands himself over to the betrayer, the destroyer, and in so doing, overcomes the night, overcomes the darkness of evil. Only in this way is the gift of the Eucharist, instituted in the Upper Room, fulfilled: Jesus truly gives his Body and his Blood. Crossing over the threshold of death, he becomes living Bread, true manna, endless nourishment for eternity. The flesh becomes the Bread of Life.
In the Holy Thursday procession, the Church accompanies Jesus to the Mount of Olives: it is the authentic desire of the Church in prayer to keep watch with Jesus, not to abandon him in the night of the world, on the night of betrayal, on the night of the indifference of many people.
On the feast of Corpus Domini, we again go on this procession, but in the joy of the Resurrection. The Lord is risen and leads us. In the narrations of the Resurrection there is a common and essential feature; the angels say: the Lord "goes ahead of you to Galilee, where you will see him" (Matthew 28: 7).
Taking this into deep consideration, we can say that this "going ahead" of Jesus implies a two-way direction.
The first is, as we have heard, Galilee. In Israel, Galilee was considered to be the doorway to the pagan world. And in reality, precisely on the mountain in Galilee, the disciples see Jesus, the Lord, who tells them: "Go... and make disciples of all the nations" (Matthew 28: 19).
The other preceding direction of the Risen One appears in the Gospel of St John, in the words of Jesus to Mary Magdalene: "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father" (John 20: 17).
Jesus goes before us next to the Father, rises to the heights of God and invites us to follow him. These two directions on the Risen One's journey are not contradictory, for both indicate the path to follow Christ.
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6 July 2014