Christ “transformed extreme violence and extreme injustice into a supreme deed of love and justice,” said the Holy Father at Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran on Thursday evening. During the homily, he spoke of the relationship between the Eucharist and Christ’s priesthood.
The atmosphere of the celebration, already dampened because of the rain, was further sobered by the news of the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, the President of the Turkish Bishops Conference and Apostolic Delegate to the country, earlier in the afternoon.
The Holy Father spoke of transformation of Christ, through the suffering of his life, death and resurrection, into the “supreme priest.” The Passion was for Jesus “a sort of priestly consecration,” he explained.
“He gave Himself up in atonement and the Father, by exalting Him above every creature, made Him the universal mediator of salvation,” the Pope continued. Referring to the Eucharist and the consecration to take place during the celebration of the Mass, the Holy Father pointed out that, “in it Jesus anticipated His sacrifice, not a ritual one but a personal sacrifice.
"This love," he explained, "is none other than the Holy Spirit … that consecrates the bread and wine and changes their substance into the Body and blood of the Lord, making present in the Sacrament the same Sacrifice that is brought about in a vicious way on the Cross.
It can be seen that Christ is "the true and effective priest," said Benedict XVI, because in spite of the betrayal in "his darkest hour," he was full of the Spirit, the height and fullness of God's love.
“It is this divine strength … that transformed the extreme violence and the extreme injustice into a supreme deed of love and justice. This is the work of the priesthood of Christ, which the Church has inherited and extends through history, in the dual form of the common priesthood of the baptised and the ordained priesthood of ministers, so as to transform the world with the love of God.”
He added that “all of us, priests and faithful, are nourished in the same Eucharist, we all prostrate ourselves to adore It, because in It is present our Master and Lord, is present the true Body of Jesus, Victim and Priest, salvation of the world.”
Rain kept the Mass for the Solemnity of Corpus Domini from being held in the square outside the basilica and also prevented the Eucharistic procession to the nearby Basilica of St. Mary Major afterwards for the first time since John Paul II started the event in the 1980s.