For Pope Francis, the Eucharist is all that can satisfy humanity’s deepest hungers and longings, and is a source of hope, joy, and zeal in leading others to Christ. “Human beings all over the word today need nourishment. And this nourishment is not just to satisfy physical hunger,” the Pope said in his Nov. 10 video message for the opening of India's 50th National Eucharistic Congress, being held in Mumbai. In addition to food, human beings also hunger for love, immortality, affection, being cared for, forgiveness, and mercy, he said. All of these hungers find their satisfaction in one thing: “the bread that comes from above,” Francis stressed, explaining that “Jesus himself is the living bread that gives life to the world.” The Pope sent his video message to those participating in India's National Eucharistic Congress, being held in Mumbai, which will run Nov. 12-15 and reflects on the theme “Nourished by the Eucharist to nourish others.” As many as 5,000 people from across India are expected to attend the congress. Each of the 167 dioceses in India are sending five representatives to Mumbai for the event, where the Eucharist will be celebrated in the Latin, East Syrian, and West Syrian rites. Mumbai also hosted the 38th International Eucharistic Congress, in 1964, at which Bl. Paul VI presided. Pope Francis will be represented at the Eucharistic Congress by Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjit of Colombo. In his message, Pope Francis said the Eucharistic Congress is God’s gift not just for India’s Christians, but for the entire country, which contains a vast variety of cultures and spiritual traditions. “Over thousands of years India has been permeated by the desire for truth, the search for the divine, the effort at goodness and kindness,” he said, and recalled Bl. Paul VI’s 1964 reminder that the Eucharist is the commemoration of Christ and his love for all humanity. The love of Christ, he said, “is not a matter of the past,” but is meant to remain alive and present in the heart of each person. Also in India, Christ is important not only for the country’s Christian minority, but for “the millions of people who have come to know and love him as an inspiration of love and self-sacrifice.” The Eucharist, Francis continued, quting his own homily at Corpus Christi this year, “actualizes the covenant that sanctifies us, purifies us and unites us in the marvelous Communion with God. Thus we learn that the Eucharist is not only a reward for the good but also the strength for the weak and for sinners.” However, the Pope noted that the Eucharist doesn’t end with consuming the body and blood of the Lord. Partaking in the sacrament also leads us to have solidarity with others, he said. “Communion with the Lord is necessarily a communion with our fellow brothers and sisters. And therefore the one who is fed and nourished by the very body and blood of Christ cannot remain unaffected when he sees his brothers suffering want and hunger,” Francis explained. Once nourished by the Eucharist, those who receive it are called to bring the joy of the Gospel to those who haven’t yet received it, and to give hope to those who live in darkness and despair. “In the Eucharist the Lord makes us walk on his road; that of service, of sharing, of giving,” Francis said, adding that if shared, the little that we have and are then “becomes riches, for the power of God — which is the power of love — comes down into poverty to transform it.” Pope Francis closed his message by praying that the congress would be a beacon of light for all of India and “the harbinger of great joy and happiness,” as well as an occasion for all Indians to come together in unity and charity.
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