Only the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the food of life, can satisfy the hunger of hearts for love, a universal experience, Pope Francis said during Mass Sunday for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.
“In life, we constantly need to be fed: nourished not only with food, but also with plans and affection, hopes and desires. We hunger to be loved. But the most pleasing compliments, the finest gifts and the most advanced technologies are not enough; they never completely satisfy us,” the pope said June 3.
“The Eucharist is simple food, like bread, yet it is the only food that satisfies, for there is no greater love,” he added. “There we encounter Jesus really; we share his life and we feel his love.”
“Let us choose this food of life! Let us make Mass our priority! Let us rediscover Eucharistic adoration in our communities! Let us implore the grace to hunger for God, with an insatiable desire to receive what he has prepared for us,” the pope said.
The pope gave his homily for Corpus Christi at a Mass in Ostia, a neighborhood on the coast at the outskirts of Rome, in front of the parish of Santa Monica. Since 1978, this Mass had been held at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
Before that, however, the Mass had been celebrated in different areas of Rome. Corpus Christi was last celebrated in Ostia in 1968 by Bl. Pope Paul VI.
Following Mass, Pope Francis led a Eucharistic procession of around three quarters of a mile in length. The procession passed through the streets of the district, ending with solemn Benediction with the Holy Eucharist near the parish of Our Lady of Bonaria.
Among the community participants of the procession were approximately 850 recent first communicants, dressed in white, and around 350 recently confirmed young people.
In his homily, the pope referenced the day’s Gospel passage, with the account of the Last Supper. Throughout the Gospels, the word “prepare,” is repeated, Francis pointed out, like when the disciples ask Jesus where they should prepare to eat the Passover.
Later, during Jesus’s third appearance to his disciples after the resurrection, he tells them: “I go to prepare a place for you…”
Jesus’ words to his disciples are also for us. He prepares a place for us and asks us to be prepared, the pope said.
“What does he prepare for us? A place and a meal,” said Pope Francis.
“Jesus prepares a place for us here below, because the Eucharist is the beating heart of the Church. It gives her birth and rebirth; it gathers her together and gives her strength. But the Eucharist also prepares for us a place on high, in eternity, for it is the Bread of heaven.”
Francis explained that the Eucharist is God’s concrete promise of what awaits his followers in heaven. “The Eucharist is our ‘reservation for the heavenly banquet,” he said. “It is Jesus himself, as food for our journey towards eternal life and happiness.”
When Catholics worship Jesus in the Eucharist, they receive the Holy Spirit and find peace and joy, he said.
Jesus is asking Christians today to go and prepare a place, but he does not prefer “exclusive, selective places,” the pope continued. “He looks for places untouched by love, untouched by hope...”
Everyone knows people who are lonely, troubled, or in need: “they are abandoned tabernacles,” Francis said. Those who receive Jesus in the Eucharist, “are here to prepare a place and a meal for these, our brothers and sisters in need.”
“Jesus became bread broken for our sake; in turn, he asks us to give ourselves to others, to live no longer for ourselves but for one another. In this way, we live “eucharistically,” pouring out upon the world the love we draw from the Lord’s flesh.”
Concluding his homily, the pope recited a short prayer, asking the Lord to enter into the hearts of those present, thanking him for preparing the food of life, and asking him to help Catholics to be active and joyous in bringing Christ to others.