By Kevin J. Jones and
“To live the experience of faith means to let the Lord nourish us and to build our existence not on material goods, but on the reality that does not perish: the gifts of God, his word and his body,” the Pope said in his June 19 homily during Mass at the entrance to the Basilica of St. John Lateran, cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.
“The Body of Christ is the bread of the end times, capable of giving life, and eternal life, because the substance is this bread of love.”
The feast of Corpus Christi, also known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, celebrates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and is marked by special displays of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, most notably Eucharistic processions.
Pope Francis exhorted the faithful to “learn to recognize the false bread that deludes and corrupts, because it is the fruit of selfishness, self-sufficiency and sin.”
“Where do I want to eat? At the table that will nurture me? At the table of the Lord? Or do I dream of eating these tasty foods, but in slavery?”
Pope Francis said God’s nourishment at times does not seem “as tasty as some foods that the world offers,” and so the faithful at times “dream of other meals,” like the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt. They remembered the meals they had in Egypt, but had a “selective memory” at the times of their temptation and forgot that they ate “at the table of slavery.”
A similar temptation is present today, the Pope said.
“If we look around, we realize that there are so many offers for food that don't come from the Lord and that apparently satisfy more. Some are fed with money, others with success and vanity, others with power and pride. But the food that truly nourishes and that satisfies is only that which the Lord gives!”
Man has both a physical hunger and “another hunger, a hunger that cannot be satisfied with ordinary food,” he continued.
This is “a hunger for life, a hunger for love, a hunger for eternity.”
Manna, the miraculous bread that fed the Israelites, is a sign of “the food that satisfies this profound hunger that there is in man.”
“Jesus gives us this food,” the Pope said, noting that Christ is himself “the living bread that gives life to the world.”
“His body is the true food under the species of bread; his blood is the true drink under the species of wine.”
The Pope concluded his homily with a prayer.
“Jesus, defend us from the temptations of worldly food that makes us slaves; purify our memory, so that it does not remain captive in selectivity, selfishness and worldliness, but is a living memory of your presence throughout the history of your people, a memory that becomes a ‘memorial’ of your gesture of redemptive love.”
In the Diocese of Rome, Corpus Christi traditionally includes a Eucharistic procession from the Basilica of St. John Lateran to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, led by the city's bishop.
However, Pope Francis did not lead the procession itself.
Instead, after Mass Pope Francis traveled to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major to welcome the procession, which was led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome.
Vatican press officer Fr. Federico Lombardi said Pope Francis decided not to lead the Corpus Christi procession for several reasons; he faces an intense weekend schedule, including a Saturday apostolic journey to the town of Cassano all’Jonio in southern Italy.
The Pope also did not want to participate in the procession because he did not want to be at the center of attention and distract from the faithful’s concentration on the Blessed Sacrament.
The Pope imparted his solemn Eucharistic Blessing at the procession’s end in the square in front of Saint Mary Major.
During Mass for the feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis exhorted the faithful to avoid the “false bread” of the world, and to remember that God’s food truly satisfies.