The Feast of Corpus Christi is a time for Christians to remember that God will meet their basic needs to eat and to be filled with the joy and amazement of receiving loving nourishment from Jesus Christ, Pope Francis said Sunday.
At the same time, the pope emphasized, the Eucharist must also move Christians to action.
“We can evaluate our Eucharistic Adoration when we take care of our neighbor like Jesus does,” the pope said Sunday before the recitation of the Angelus at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
“There is hunger for food around us, but also for companionship; there is hunger for consolation, friendship, good humor; there is hunger for attention, there is hunger to be evangelized. We find this in the Eucharistic Bread — the attention of Christ to our needs and the invitation to do the same toward those who are beside us. We need to eat and feed others.”
The pope’s remarks reflected on Sunday’s Gospel reading, the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes from the Gospel of Luke.
The pope linked the reading to the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. The Eucharist was like “the destination of a journey along which Jesus had prefigured through several signs, above all the multiplication of the loaves narrated in the Gospel of today’s liturgy."
The pontiff reflected on the manner of the miracle when Jesus fed so many who lacked food.
“The miracle of the loaves and fishes does not happen in a spectacular way, but almost secretly, 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,” said Pope Francis.
“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,” he said. “If I have hardly any bread in my sack, he knows and takes care of it himself.”
The pope connected the tangible needs of food with the intangible needs of humankind.
“Sometimes there is the risk of confining the Eucharist to a vague, distant dimension, perhaps bright and perfumed with incense, but rather distant from the straits of everyday life. In reality, the Lord takes all our needs to heart, beginning with the most basic,” he said.
“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 satisfied in the Eucharist,” he added. “The crowd is satisfied because of the abundance of food and also because of the joy and amazement of having received it from Jesus!"
Jesus Christ’s self-giving presence is key to understanding the Eucharist, the pope said.
“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 traveling 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, our obscurities, our doubts; he sees the meaning, and this meaning that the Lord gives satisfies us,” the pope explained. Everyone is looking for the presence of the Lord, because “in the warmth of his presence, our lives change,” the pope added.
“Without him, everything would truly be gray,” he said. “Adoring the Body and Blood of Christ, let us ask him with our heart: ‘Lord, give me that daily bread to go forward, Lord, satisfy me with your presence!’”
The pope also prayed that the Virgin Mary may teach us “how to adore Jesus, living in the Eucharist and to share him with our brothers and sisters.”
Statements on Spanish martyrs, Ukraine war
After the Angelus, the pope discussed the Saturday beatification of Dominican religious who were killed in the Spanish Civil War.
“They were all killed in hatred of the faith in the religious persecution that took place in Spain in the context of the civil war of the last century,” the pope said, calling for applause for them. “Their witness of adherence to Christ and forgiveness for their killers show us the way to holiness and encourage us to make their lives an offering of love to God and their brothers and sisters.”
The conflict of Ukraine after the Russian invasion also was a point for prayer, the pope said: “Let us not forget the suffering of the Ukrainian people in this moment, a people who are 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? Am I trying to understand? What am I doing today for the Ukrainian people? Each one of you, answer in your own heart,” he asked.
Prayers for Myanmar, World Meeting of Families
Pope Francis also lamented the violence in Myanmar, which has forced many to flee their homes and blocked them from meeting basic needs.
“I join the appeal of the bishops of that beloved land, that the international community does 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,” he said.
In early 2021 the Myanmar military seized power in the country. Its crackdown on opponents provoked a violent backlash. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has said the conflict has displaced more than 800,000 people from their homes. Of these, 250,000 are children.
Military forces continue to target churches and Christian institutions. On June 15 government soldiers ransacked and set fire to St. Matthew Catholic Church in Dawnyaykhu in Phruso Township in Karenni State.
Pope Francis also noted that the 10th World Meeting of Families will begin June 22 in Rome and throughout the world. Around 2,000 Catholic families will gather in Rome this week to meet Pope Francis and hear talks on marriage and the faith.
“I thank the bishops, parish priests, and family pastoral workers who have called families to moments of reflection, celebration and festivity,” he said. “Above all, I thank the married couples and families who will bear witness to family love as a vocation and way to holiness. Have a good meeting!”