In distributing the bread to the hungry crowd, the disciples are able to share in Christ's own action, giving the people something to eat.
"Clearly this miracle was not intended merely to satisfy hunger for a day, but rather it signals what Christ wants to accomplish for the salvation of all mankind, giving his own flesh and blood. And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all."
The Pope said the breaking of the bread signifies another meaning of Christ's command to "do this in remembrance of me" – allowing ourselves to make sacrifices and to be broken for the good of others.
He noted how "breaking bread" became a sign for recognizing Christ and Christians, and pointed to several passages in scripture recounting how the disciples broke bread together.
"From the outset it is the Eucharist which becomes the center and pattern of the life of the Church."
The Pope then pointed to the saints, both famous or anonymous, who have allowed themselves to be "broken" in order to "give something to eat" to their brethren.
Pope Francis concluded his homily by praying that the Eucharistic procession after Mass would be a response to Christ's command: "an action to commemorate him; an action to give food to the crowds of today; an act to break open our faith and our lives as a sign of Christ's love for this city and for the whole world."
In the Diocese of Rome, the celebration of Corpus Christi traditionally includes a Eucharistic procession from the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. The procession had traditionally been led by the Bishop of Rome, though Pope Francis did not elect to do so.
Instead, he traveled to Saint Mary Major separately to welcome the procession, which was led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome. The Pope then imparted Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament when it arrived.
During the procession, a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament was carried through the street atop a white truck, protected by two deacons and illuminated by candles. Thousands of persons took part, including many of the prelates who concelebrated Mass with the Holy Father.