Bookmark and Share

The Eucharist

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II
in the Jubilee of the Redemption
General Audience, Wednesday 8 June 1983 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life" (Jn 6, 54). By instituting the Eucharist on the vigil/eve of his death, Christ wanted to give to the Church a food that would continually nourish her and make her live of his own life of/as the Risen One.

Long before the institution, Jesus had announced this meal, one of a kind. In the Jewish cult there was no lack of sacred meals, which were consumed in the presence of God and which manifested the joy of divine favour. Jesus exceeds all this: now it is he, in his flesh and blood, who becomes (the) food and drink of humanity. In the Eucharistic meal, man feeds on God.

When, for the first time, Jesus announces this food, he arouses the amazement of his listeners, who do not come/manage to receive a divine plan so high/such a high divine plan. Jesus therefore vigorously underlines the objective truth of his words, affirming the necessity of the Eucharistic meal: "In truth, in truth I say to you: if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. "(Jn 6, 53). This is not about a purely spiritual meal, in which the expressions "eat the flesh" of Christ and "drink his blood" would have a metaphorical meaning/sense. It is a true meal, as Jesus specifies with force: "My flesh is true food and my blood true drink" (Jn 6, 55).

Moreover, such/this food is no less necessary for the development of divine life in the faithful than material foods are for the maintenance and development of bodily life. The Eucharist is not a luxury offered to those who would like to live more intimately united to/with Christ: it is a need/demand/exigency of the Christian life. This need was understood by the disciples since, according to the testimony of the Acts of the Apostles, in the early days of the Church the "breaking of the bread", that is the Eucharistic meal, was practiced every day in the homes of the faithful "with joy and simplicity of heart" (Acts 2, 46).

2. In the promise of the Eucharist, Jesus explains why this food is necessary: ​​"I am the bread of life" he declares (Jn 6:48). “As the Father who has life sent me and I live for the Father, so also he who eats me will live for me” (Jn 6:57). The Father is the first source of life: he gave this life to the Son, who in turn communicates it to humanity. He who feeds on Christ in the Eucharist does not have to wait for the hereafter to receive eternal life: he already possesses it on earth, and in it he also possesses the guarantee of the bodily Resurrection at the end of the world: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise it up at the last day ”(Jn 6:54).

This guarantee of Resurrection comes from the fact that the flesh of the Son of man given as food is his body in the glorious state of risen. The listeners of the promise of the Eucharist had not grasped this truth: they thought that Jesus wanted to speak of his flesh in the state of his earthly life, and therefore manifested great repugnance in front of the announced meal. The Master corrects their way of thinking, specifying that it is the flesh of the Son of man "who went up to where he was before" (Jn 6:62), that is, in the triumphant state of ascension to heaven. This glorious body is filled with the life of the Holy Spirit, and this is how it can sanctify men who feed on it, and give them the pledge of eternal glory.

In the Eucharist, therefore, we receive the life of the risen Christ. In fact, when the sacrifice is sacramentally performed on the altar, not only the mystery of the Savior's Passion and Death becomes actual in it, but also the mystery of the Resurrection, in which the sacrifice finds its crowning. The Eucharistic celebration makes us participate in the redemptive offering, but also in the triumphant life of the risen Christ. This is the reason for the climate of joy that characterizes every Eucharistic Liturgy. While commemorating the drama of Calvary, once marked by immense pain, the priest and the faithful rejoice by uniting their offering to that of Christ, because they know that they are living at the same time the mystery of the Resurrection, inseparable from this offering.

3. The life of the risen Christ is distinguished by its power and its richness. The one who communicates receives the spiritual strength necessary to face all obstacles and all trials while remaining faithful to his commitments as a Christian. He also draws from the Sacrament, as from a very abundant source, continuous surges of energy for the development of all its resources and qualities, in a joyful ardor that stimulates generosity.

In particular, he draws the life-giving energy of charity. In the tradition of the Church, the Eucharist has always been considered and lived as the sacrament par excellence of unity and love. Saint Paul already declares it: "Since there is only one bread, we, although many, are one body; in fact, we all share in the one bread "(1 Cor 10:17).

The Eucharistic celebration brings together all Christians, whatever their differences, in a unanimous offering and a meal in which all participate. It gathers them all in equal dignity as brothers of Christ and children of the Father; it invites them to respect, mutual esteem, mutual service. Communion also gives each person the moral strength necessary to place himself above the reasons for division and opposition, to forgive the wrongs received, to make a new effort in the sense of reconciliation and fraternal understanding.

Moreover, is it not particularly significant that the precept of mutual love was formulated by Christ in its highest expression during the Last Supper, on the occasion of the institution of the Eucharist? Every member of the faithful remembers this at the moment of approaching the Eucharistic table and undertakes not to deny with life what they celebrate in the mystery."


"Chers Frères et Sœurs. Participer au repas eucharistique n est pas un luxe, mais une nécessité. En lui l’homme se nourrit de Dieu. Dès ici-bas, il reçoit ainsi la vie éternelle, communiquée par le Père au Fils, et par le Fils à nous-mêmes. C’est une garantie de la résurrection des corps, car par sa chair le Christ nous fait don de son corps en son état glorieux de Ressuscité. Ce corps est rempli de la vie de l’Esprit Saint et peut ainsi sanctifier ceux qui se nourrissent de lui. La vie du Christ ressuscité se caractérise par sa puissance et sa richesse: elle rend les communiants forts devant les obstacles; elle les enrichit de la charité et elle les réunit en un seul Corps. A vous tous, plus encore en cette année jubilaire, je souhaite de savoir vous préparer dignement à l’Eucharistie et d’y participer d’une manière féconde. Et en recommandant moi-même vos intentions au Seigneur, je bénis de grand cœur chacun des pèlerins de langue française, spécialement ceux qui viennent de France, de Belgique, du Canada. Je bénis vos familles et tous ceux qui vous sont chers.

Dear brothers and sisters, I am pleased to welcome the many visitors and pilgrims who have come to Rome in this Jubilee Year of the Redemption, in particular those from England, Ireland, Finland, Singapore and the United States. Jesus has told us: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day”. These words of our Saviour remind us that the Eucharist is a sacred meal in which Christ gives to the Church his own body and blood as spiritual food and drink. When we partake of his divine banquet, we draw spiritual strength to face the trials and temptations of life while remaining faithful to the Gospel. We receive the grace to overcome hatred and division, to forgive others and be reconciled with them, to live in unity and love.

I offer a special word of welcome to the Lutheran visitors from Finland. I am grateful for your presence here today, for it bears witness to our common desire for perfect unity among all Christians. May your visit to Rome deepen your love for our Saviour. I extend warm greetings to the large groups of pilgrims from Singapore. And I pray that your pilgrimage to the tombs of Peter and Paul will deepen your joy and your faith in Christ the Lord. In a special way, I wish to welcome the priests and deacons of the Beda College, together with their families and friends. May your hearts be filled with peace as you serve the Lord and his people. May God bless you all.

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern! Euch allen ein herzliches Willkommen zur heutigen Audienz. Sie ist, wie ihr wißt, als Jubiläumsaudienz ein wichtiger Bestandteil der Feier des Heiligen Jahres der Erlösung. Ich erbitte euch durch die Gewinnung des Jubiläumsablasses reiche Gnaden Jesu Christi, unseres Erlösers. Christus ist seiner Kirche in einer ganz besonderen Weise nahe in der hl. Eucharistie. Sie ist Opfer und Mahl zugleich. Er selber hat uns verheißen:”Wer mein Fleisch ißt und mein Blut trinkt, hat das ewige Leben“. Im eucharistischen Mahl wird der Mensch durch Gott selbst genährt, und zwar durch den verklärten Leib seines geopferten und auferstandenen Sohnes. Es ist für uns Christen lebensnotwendig, diese göttliche Speise regelmäßig zu empfangen. Sie vermittelt uns Kraft und Ausdauer, um die Schwierigkeiten und Prüfungen auf unserem christlichen Lebensweg erfolgreich zu überwinde. Das eucharistische Mahl vereit die Christen untereinander zu einer brüderlichen Gemeinschaft und gibt uns allen die Verheißung künftiger Auferstehung. Bemühen wir uns deshalb stets um eine würdige und fruchtbare Teilnahme an der Feier der hl. Eucharistie. Von Herzen erteile ich euch allen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas, En la lectura del Evangelio de San Juan que hemos escuchado antes, Jesús nos enseña que quien come su carne y bebe su sangre, tiene la vida eterna. Esto se realiza porque en el banquete eucarístico el hombre recibe de verdad a Dios, se alimenta de El, participando de la vida que brota del Padre y que nos comunica a través de Cristo. Una vida divina que nos hace poseer, ya en la tierra, la garantía de nuestra futura resurrección corporal. Al recibir a Cristo muerto y resucitado, participamos de su gracia, que nos ayuda a superar las pruebas de la vida presente y que nos da fuerza para abrirnos al amor a Dios y a la entrega generosa a los hermanos. Un constante crecimiento en ese amor es lo que deseo a todos los hispanohablantes aquí presentes: a los procedentes de Madrid, de Menorca y Vigo, de Barcelona y de Ondárroa. También a los de la parroquia panameña de Santa Eduvigis en Betania, que han visitado los lugares que fueron escenario de la vida, pasión y resurrección del Señor. A todos aliento en su camino de fe y a todos bendigo de corazón.

Amados irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa, peregrinos do Ano Santo, A todos saúdo, com afecto no Senhor, e desejo felicidades e que a presença neste lugar e momento vos faça ver melhor os caminhos da reconciliação com Deus, pela penitência, e da boa harmonia fraterna, pela caridade, na luta contra o pecado pessoal e social e no esforço por abrir as portas a Cristo Redentor. Neste clima de Ano Santo, o encontro de hoje é ainda centrado na Eucaristia; nela o Senhor quis dar à Igreja um alimento verdadeiro, não puramente espiritual, necessário para termos a vida, a coragem e o amor na peregrinação terrena. Participar na Eucaristia é exigência da vida cristã autêntica e, desde já, penhor da vida eterna: celebramos não apenas o Sacrifício redentor, mas também a glória de Cristo ressuscitado, em que nos foi prometido ter parte. Assim se explica a alegria de refeição fraternal e a confiança de quem comunga dignamente o Corpo e o Sangue do Senhor, onde temos a força espiritual para a prática da caridade na unidade, com os outros filhos de Deus e irmãos em Cristo. Desejando que para todos seja vida o que celebramos no mistério, dou-vos a Bênção Apostólica.

1. Najbliższy piątek poświęca Kościół na Uroczystość Najświętszego Serca Pana Jezusa. W tej perspektywie pragnę przypomnieć akt oddania Bożemu Sercu, jakiego dokonał Episkopat Polski w Uroczystość Chrystusa Króla, dnia 28 października 1951 roku, wkrótce po zakończeniu drugiej wojny światowej.

Oto słowa z tego aktu oddania:
“Dziękujemy Ci za wszystkie dobrodziejstwa, / jakie wyświadczyłeś narodowi naszemu, / a szczególniej za powołanie nas do świętej wiary katolickiej / i za opiekę nad nami w najcięższych nawet chwilach dziejowych! / . . . całkowicie się oddajemy poświęcami Boskiemu Sercu Twojemu, / aby na zawsze być ludem Twoim! / Zarazem uroczyście przyrzekamy trwać wiernie / w świętej wierze katolickiej, / bronić Twego Świętego Kościoła, / życie nasze osobiste, rodzinne i narodowe / kształtować według Twojej Ewangelii!”.

2. Pani Jasnogórska! Ty zawsze byłaś dla nas drogą do Serca Twojego Syna. To Serce, “włócznią przebite” na krzyżu, stało się “źródłem życia i świętości” dla wszystkich. Przybliżaj do Boskiego Serca osoby, rodziny, środowiska, bo Serce to - “posłuszne aż do śmierci” - “przebłaganiem za grzechy nasze”. Niech będzie również “źródłem wszelkiej pociechy” dla wszystkich uciśnionych, pokrzywdzonych i cierpiących.

Niechaj, o Matko, za Twoim pośrednictwem, Serce Odkupiciela nie przestaje, na polskiej ziemi, być “Królem serc wszystkich i celem ich”, . . . aby wszyscy “czerpali z Jego pełności” - zwłaszcza w tym świętym Roku Odkupienia.

Rivolgo ora il mio saluto ai pellegrini italiani, con speciale pensiero ai gruppi parrocchiali che oggi sono particolarmente numerosi. A tutti vada il mio più cordiale benvenuto. Saluto in modo particolare i ragazzi e i giovani. La nota di festoso entusiasmo che voi portate, è sempre motivo di gioia per me, e di speranza per la Chiesa: e di questo vi sono grato. Quanti di voi sono dediti allo studio, sono alla vigilia delle tanto desiderate vacanze, che portano il riposo dopo l’intenso lavoro dell’anno scolastico. Tale periodo divenga per tutti occasione per un profondo arricchimento dello spirito: sappiate trovare spazi di silenzio mediante i quali, a contatto con le meraviglie della natura, e contemplando quanto l’ingegno dell’uomo ha saputo costruire, la vostra mente possa scoprire la magnificenza e la grandezza del Dio del creato. Vi accompagni, e porti in voi copiosi frutti di bene la mia Benedizione.

Anche agli ammalati desidero rivolgere un particolare pensiero. Il mio incontro con voi oggi si svolge nel ricordo ancora vivo della recente celebrazione, per la quale sono convenuti in questa piazza tanti fratelli che, come voi, portano nel corpo la sofferenza che completa la passione di Cristo redentore. Quale spettacolo edificante, quale esempio di cristiana sopportazione voi tutti sapete offrire! Voi avete compreso che, se il corpo geme per la malattia, lo spirito può essere arricchito della forza che, prorompendo dalla Croce, trasforma e sublima la vostra intera esistenza. Vi esorto in particolare a vivere intensamente la festa del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, che celebreremo Venerdì della corrente settimana. Affidatevi al Cuore Divino di Gesù ed attingete da Lui la forza e il conforto di cui avete bisogno. A tutti la mia Benedizione.

Saluto infine gli Sposi Novelli presenti a questa Udienza. L’itinerario di vita familiare, che da poco avete iniziato davanti all’altare, vi ha portato in questi giorni a pregare sulla tomba dell’Apostolo Pietro. Sappiate qui attingere la forza di vivere la vostra promessa di reciproca donazione come un impegno di vera testimonianza. Chi vi incontrerà potrà così vedere in voi i testimoni di quella fede che già vi ha portato a emendare la vostra unione con il segno sacramentale; i testimoni di una gioiosa speranza e di un amore che vi veda protesi nella comune ricerca della perfezione e nel processo di collaborazione con Dio, per continuare la meravigliosa missione della trasmissione della vita. In questo cammino di fedeltà e di amore vi accompagni la mia Benedizione."