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Solemnity of Corpus Christi 2001

Pope Saint John Paul II's Homily at Mass
Basilica of St John Lateran
before Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament & a Eucharistic Procession to the Basilica of St Mary Major
Thursday, 14 June 2001 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Ecce panis Angelorum, / factus cibus viatorum:  / vere panis filiorum" "Behold the bread of angels, as pilgrims' food inherited, it is the bread of all true heirs" (Sequence).

Today the Church shows the world the Corpus Christi - the Body of Christ. And she invites us to adore him:  Venite adoremus - Come let us adore him.

The attention of believers is focused on the Sacrament in which Christ has left himself:  Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It is the reason for considering it as the holiest reality: "the Blessed Sacrament", living memorial of the redeeming Sacrifice.

On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we return to that "Thursday" which we call "holy", on which the Redeemer celebrated his last Passover with the disciples: it was the Last Supper, fulfilling the Jewish passover supper and inaugurating the Eucharistic rite.

For this reason, for centuries the Church has chosen Thursday for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, feast of adoration, contemplation and exaltation. On the feast the People of God draw close to the most precious treasure left by Christ, the Sacrament of his own Presence, and they praise, celebrate and carry it in procession through the streets of our cities.

2. "Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem!"  "Praise, O Sion, your Redeemer". (Sequence).

The new Sion, the spiritual Jerusalem in which God's children are gathered from every nation, language and culture, praises our Saviour with hymns and canticles. Indeed, wonder and gratitude for the gift received are inexhaustible. This gift "exceeds all praise, there is no hymn worthy of it" (ibid).

It is a sublime and ineffable mystery, a mystery before which we remain astonished and silent, in a state of deep and ecstatic contemplation.

3. "Tantum ergo Sacramentum veneremur cernui - Let us fall down in adoration of so great a sacrament".

Christ who died and rose for us is really present in the Holy Eucharist.

In the consecrated Bread and Wine, the same Jesus of the Gospels remains with us whom the disciples met and followed, whom they saw crucified and risen, whose wounds Thomas touched, exclaiming prostrate in adoration:  "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20, 28) (cf ibid, 17-20).

In the Sacrament of the altar, there are offered for our contemplation the full depths of the mystery of Christ, the Word and the flesh, the divine glory and his tent among men. Before this Sacrament, we are sure that God is "with us", that in Jesus Christ he assumed all the dimensions of our human nature, except sin, emptying himself of his glory to clothe us with it (cf ibid, 21-23).

The invisible face of Christ, the Son of God, is manifest in his Body and Blood in the simplest and, at the same time, the most exalted way possible in this world.

The ecclesial community responds to people in every age who ask perplexed: "We wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12, 21), by repeating what the Lord did for the disciples of Emmaus: He broke the bread. In the breaking of the bread, the eyes of those who seek him with a sincere heart are opened. In the Eucharist, the intuition of the heart recognizes Jesus and his unmistakable love lived "to the end" (Jn 13, 1). And in him, in that gesture, it recognizes the Face of God!

4. "Ecce panis Angelorum ... vere panis filiorum"  "The angel's food is given ... see the bread of the sons [of God]".

We are nourished with this bread to become authentic witnesses of the Gospel. We need this bread to grow in love, the necessary means for us to recognize the face of Christ in the faces of our brothers and sisters.

Our diocesan community has need of the Eucharist in order to continue on the path of missionary renewal on which it has set out. In the last few days the diocesan convention was held, which examined "the perspectives of communion, formation and mission in the Diocese of Rome for the coming years". It is necessary to continue to "set out anew" from Christ, that is, from the Eucharist. Let us walk generously and courageously, seeking communion within our ecclesial community, and lovingly dedicated to humble and disinterested service to all, especially the neediest.

On this journey Jesus goes before us, with the gift of himself to the point of sacrifice and offers himself to us as nourishment and support. Indeed he does not cease to repeat to the Pastors of the People of God in all the ages: "Give them something to eat" (Lk 9, 17); break this bread of eternal life for everyone. A demanding and exalting task. A mission that lasts until the end of time.

5. "All ate and were satisfied" (Lk 9, 17). The echo of a feast that has gone on without interruption for 2000 years reaches us through the words of the Gospel we have just heard. A Feast of the people on their way in their exodus from the world, nourished by Christ, the true Bread of salvation.

At the end of the Mass we will process in the heart of Rome, carrying the Body of Christ hidden in our hearts and clearly visible in the monstrance. We will accompany the Bread of immortal life through the city streets. We will adore him and around him will be gathered the Church, living monstrance of the Saviour of the world.

May Rome's Christians, revived by his Body and Blood, show Christ to everyone through their way of life: through their unity, their joyful faith and their kindness.

May our diocesan community courageously set out anew from Christ, the Bread of immortal life.

And you, Jesus, living Bread who gives life, bread of pilgrims, "may you feed us, may you guard us, may you let us see good things in our homeland eternally." Amen."

Papa San Giovanni Paolo's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
Sunday, 17 June 2001 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dearest Brothers and Sisters,
1. I still have a vivid memory of the devout celebration of the Eucharist at which I presided last Thursday at St John Lateran for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, and of the subsequent solemn procession to St Mary Major. For pastoral reasons, this beautiful and traditional feast is celebrated today, Sunday, in Italy and in many other countries. The ecclesial Community gathers in adoration around the most precious treasure that Christ the Lord left it in heritage: the sacrament of the Eucharist, the perpetual memorial of his redemptive sacrifice.

Corpus Christi has become a popular celebration, thanks to the lovely custom of carrying the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of our cities and towns. It is a feast in which we rejoice over the extraordinary gift of the Bread of life which, as Christ promised, guarantees eternal life the Bread that is really his flesh, his humanity, through which God sanctifies hearts, people, communities, nations and the whole cosmos.

The Eucharist thus becomes the principle of the new humanity and the renewed world, whose complete manifestation will take place at the end of history. Already now it is growing as the seed and leaven of the kingdom of God.

2. The distinctive feature of the new humanity redeemed by Christ is the fullness of fraternal love.

Actually the Eucharist is the Sacrament of love par excellence, understood as the gift of self.

Without the spiritual nourishment that the Body and Blood of Christ gives us, human love is always tainted by selfishness. On the other hand, Communion with the Bread of heaven converts hearts and instils in them the capacity to love as Jesus loved us.

"Communion": the name that we often give to the Eucharist, is especially significant in this regard. Those who receive the Body of Christ with faith are closely united to Him and, through Him, to God the Father, in the love of the Holy Spirit. God in man, man in God. And this becomes the true foundation of communion in the Church. As the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians: "Because there is one bread, we ... are one body" (I Cor 10, 17).

3. Jesus, Bread of eternal life, descended from heaven, thanks to the faith of the Blessed Virgin.

After bearing him within her with ineffable love, she faithfully followed the incarnate Word to the Cross and the Resurrection. Let us ask Mary to help us rediscover the centrality of the Eucharist, especially on the Lord's Day, in order to live fraternal communion to the full. We also ask her to lead us towards true unity. I would like to entrust to Mary in a very special way the upcoming pilgrimage I shall be making in Ukraine, starting next Saturday. May this apostolic journey be another milestone on the desired way towards the unity of all Christians."

After the recitation of the Angelus:

"World Refugee Day will be celebrated next Wednesday. It emphasizes the solidarity we owe to millions of people who are living the difficult plight of refugees. This scourge has unfortunately increased in recent years: consequently the need for international protection has increased, but so have the number of countries that tend to restrict it. As I hope that the causes of forced migration everywhere will be removed, I invite people to renew their efforts to see that refugees never lack the just understanding and help they need.

I extend a special greeting to the pilgrims from Malaysia and Singapore, and I pray that Almighty God will continue to bless you and your families with vigorous faith and generosity in acts of charity. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Saluto con affetto i pellegrini italiani, in particolare i gruppi parrocchiali di Roma e di Civita Castellana, auspicando che la sosta presso la tomba di San Pietro alimenti la fede e la testimonianza evangelica.

A tutti auguro una buona domenica."




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