On the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi Sunday, Pope Francis said that in a culture obsessed with profit and personal gain, the Eucharist is a remedy for selfishness, inviting people to imitate Christ in sharing themselves with and for others.
Speaking to attendees of his June 23 Mass at the Roman parish of Saint Mary the Consoler, the pope said God “does not work spectacular miracles,” but rather “God’s omnipotence is lowly, made up of love alone.”
“Love can accomplish great things with little,” he said, pointing to the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish from the days’ Gospel reading from Luke.
The Eucharist, he said, is an example of doing big things with little, “for there we find God himself contained in a piece of bread. Being simple and essential, bread broken and shared, the Eucharist we receive allows us to see things as God does.”
“It inspires us to give ourselves to others,” he said, calling it “the antidote to the mindset that says: ‘Sorry, that is not my problem,’” or: ‘I have no time, I can’t help you, it’s none of my business.’”
Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, which brings an end to the Easter season on the Catholic liturgical calendar. After celebrating Mass, the pope will lead faithful in a Eucharistic procession to the “Roma 6” sporting field, located adjacent to the Casa Serena shelter for homeless persons run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
In his homily, Francis focused on the actions of speaking and giving illustrated in the day’s readings.
For Melchizedek in the first reading from Genesis, to speak is to bless, he said, adding that the same thing happens in the day’s Gospel reading from Luke when Jesus multiplies the loaves and fish.
“Everything begins with blessing: words of goodness create a history of goodness,” he said, and speaking of Jesus’ miracle, noted that one blessing is enough to turn five loaves “into food enough for a great crowd: the blessing releases a cascade of goodness.”
“Why is it good to bless? Because it turns a word into a gift. When we bless, we are not doing something for ourselves, but for others. Blessing is not about saying nice words or trite phrases; it is about speaking goodness, speaking with love,” Francis said.
Calling the Eucharist a “school of blessing,” the pope stressed that in coming to Mass, Catholics are blessed in order to go out and become “channels of goodness” throughout the world.
Speaking directly to priests, Francis emphasized the importance of pastors continuing to bless their people, saying, “the Lord wants to bless his people; he is happy to make us feel his affection for us.”
“It is sad to think of how easily people today speak words not of blessing but of contempt and insult,” he said, noting that in the modern-day frenzy of everyday life, many people choose to vent their anger at everything and everyone.
Those who are angriest and shout the loudest, he said, often convince others to join them, making the situation worse.
“Let us avoid being infected by that arrogance; let us not let ourselves be overcome by bitterness, for we eat the Bread that contains all sweetness within it,” the pope said, adding that God’s people are meant to praise, and not complain.
“We were created to bless, not grumble,” he said, urging Catholics to learn how to be grateful and praise God for what they have, offering encouragement to others rather than cursing where they are at.
Pope Francis also stressed the importance of giving, saying that in the day’s Gospel, the image of bread broken and given to the people becomes an image of sharing.
Rather than simply being consumed, the loaves and fish are distributed among the people, Francis said, noting how the Gospel reading itself, while recounting the miracle, makes no mention of the actual multiplication of the bread.
“In effect, the emphasis is not on the multiplication but the act of sharing. This is important. Jesus does not perform a magic trick,” he said, but rather, he prays, breaks the bread and gives it to those around him, “and those five loaves never run out.”
“This is no magic trick; it is an act of trust in God and his providence,” he said, noting that in a world constantly seeking to increase its profit, the “economy of the Gospel” offers a lesson not in having, but giving.
“Whatever we have can bear fruit if we give it away - that is what Jesus wants to tell us - and it does not matter whether it is great or small. The Lord does great things with our littleness, as he did with the five loaves,” he said.
Closing his homily, Pope Francis said each person must give the little that they have not only to God, but also to others.
While it might seem small, “your ‘little’ has great value in the eyes of Jesus, provided that you don’t keep it to yourself, but put it in play,” he said, adding, “you are not alone, for you have the Eucharist, bread for the journey, the bread of Jesus.”