IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring
By Cindy Wooden
ROME (CNS) — A Corpus Christi procession should honor
Christ’s gift of himself in the Eucharist, but also should be a pledge to share
bread and faith with the people of the cities and towns where the processions
take place, Pope Francis said.
Just as the “breaking of the bread” became the
icon of the early Christian community, giving of oneself in order to nourish
others spiritually and physically should be a sign of Christians today, the
pope said May 26, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
On a warm spring evening, the pope’s celebration began with Mass
outside Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran and was to be followed by a traditional
Corpus Christi procession from St. John Lateran to the Basilica of St. Mary
Major, one mile away. Hundreds of members of parish and diocesan confraternities
and sodalities — dressed in blue, brown, black or white capes and robes —
joined the pope for Mass and would make the nighttime walk to St. Mary Major
for eucharistic benediction with him.
“May this action of the eucharistic procession, which
we will carry out shortly, respond to Jesus’ command,” he said in his
homily. The procession should be “an action to commemorate him; an action
to give food to the crowds of today; an act to break open our faith and our
lives as a sign of Christ’s love for this city and for the whole world.”
In every celebration of the Eucharist, the pope said, the
people place simple bread and wine into “poor hands anointed by the Holy
Spirit” and Jesus “gives us his body and his blood.”
The people’s gifts are an important part of the process,
just as they were when Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves and two fish,
Pope Francis said.
“Indeed,” he said, “it is Jesus who blesses
and breaks the loaves and provides sufficient food to satisfy the whole crowd,
but it is the disciples who offer the five loaves and two fish.”
“Jesus wanted it this way,” he said. Rather than
letting the disciples send the people away to find food, Jesus wanted the
disciples to “put at his disposal what little they had.”
“And there is another gesture: The pieces of bread,
broken by the holy and venerable hands of Our Lord, pass into the poor hands of
the disciples, who distribute these to the people,” Pope Francis said.
The miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish, he
said, “signals what Christ wants to accomplish for
the salvation of all mankind, giving his own flesh and blood. And yet this
needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves
and fish which we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and
giving it to all.”
Later in the Mass, a couple with four children and a
grandmother with her three grandchildren brought the gifts of bread and wine to
the pope for consecration.
Pope Francis urged the crowd gathered on the lawn outside
the basilica to consider all the holy men and women throughout history who have
given their lives, “‘broken’ themselves,” in order to nourish others.
“How many mothers, how many fathers, together with the
slices of bread they provide each day on the tables of their homes, have broken
their hearts to let their children grow, and grow well,” he said. “How
many Christians, as responsible citizens, have broken their own lives to defend
the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those
The source of strength for such given, he said, is found in
“the Eucharist, in the power of the risen Lord’s love, who today too breaks
bread for us and repeats: ‘Do this in remembrance of me.'”
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