Rome, Italy, May 30, 2013 / 11:30 am
Pope Francis says that even though solidarity is an idea "frowned down upon by the world," people need to practice it by spiritually feeding others.
"A keyword that we need not fear is 'solidarity,' that is, knowing how to make available to God what we have, our humble capacity, because only in the gift of sharing our lives will we be fruitful," he said during his homily May 30 at Rome's Basilica of Saint John Lateran.
"The solution of Jesus goes in another direction, a direction that surprises the disciples – 'you give them something to eat,'" he stated.
The Pope based his homily on this year's Gospel reading from Luke 9, which tells how Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish to feed 5,000 people in the wilderness.
"Jesus speaks in silence in the mystery of the Eucharist and each time reminds us that following him means to come out of ourselves and not make our life our possession, but a gift to him and to others," he told the congregation.
"This evening we are the crowd of the Gospel, we also strive to follow Jesus to listen to him, to enter into communion with him in the Eucharist, to accompany him and find why he accompanies us," said Pope Francis.
The feast of Corpus Christi, which celebrates the gift of the Body and Blood of Christ, is celebrated on May 30 in Rome, but some countries have moved the feast to the following Sunday.
Pope Francis, who is the Bishop of Rome, celebrated the Mass in St. John Lateran because it is the cathedral of the diocese.
He underscored in his reflection that the Eucharist is "real food that sustains our life even at times when the going gets tough and when the obstacles slow down our steps."
"Let us ask ourselves, 'how do I follow Jesus?'" he said.
The Mass reading recalls how the 12 disciples asked Jesus to send the people away to find lodging and food, since they were in a deserted place and only had five loaves of bread and two fish.
"In the Gospel we have just heard, there is an expression of Jesus that always strikes me, 'you give them something to eat,'" Pope Francis remarked, referring to how Jesus responded to his disciples.
"From this sentence, I let myself be guided by three words, discipleship, fellowship and sharing," he explained.
The pontiff noted "the invitation that Jesus makes to his disciples to feed the multitude themselves is based on two elements."
"First, the crowd who followed Jesus, is in an open space, away from inhabited areas, while evening comes," he pointed out.
Jesus' response is also rooted in "the concern of the disciples who ask Jesus to send the crowd away to go into neighboring countries to find food and lodging," he said.
According to the Pope, "everyone thinks about himself" and dismisses others.
"How many times do we, Christians, have this temptation!" he exclaimed.
"We do not care for the needs of others, dismissing them with a pitiful 'God help you,'" he said.
But Jesus, on the other hand, was not discouraged and asked the disciples to seat people in groups of 50 people, the Pope underlined.
He labeled the moment when Jesus raised his eyes to heaven, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave it to the disciples to distribute as "a moment of deep communion."
"The crowd, quenched by the word of the Lord, is now nourished by the bread of his life and they were all satisfied," he stated.
"The Lord in the Eucharist makes us follow his path, that of service, of sharing, of giving, and what little we have, what little we are, becomes wealth if shared, because the power of God, which is that of love, comes down upon our poverty to transform it," the Pope preached.
After the evening Mass, Pope Francis will lead a procession with the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of Rome to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, a distance of about one mile.
Parishes, confraternities and other groups of faithful will take part in the procession, which was revived during the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II.