By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When received with faith, the Eucharist not only nourishes and satisfies one’s hunger for consolation and love, but gives Christians the strength to nourish others, Pope Francis said.
Addressing an estimated 20,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address June 19, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the pope said that, through the Eucharist, “everyone can experience this loving and concrete attention of the Lord.”
“Sometimes there is the risk of confining the Eucharist to a vague, distant dimension, perhaps bright and perfumed with incense, but rather distant from the challenges of everyday life. In reality, the Lord takes all our needs to heart, beginning with the most basic,” he said.
The press office announced June 13 that the pope would not lead the public celebrations for the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ — a celebration that was to have included Mass, a procession and Benediction — due to knee problems.
Before praying the Angelus prayer with the pilgrims, the pope reflected on the feast day and the significance of the Eucharist in Christian life.
Recalling the Sunday Gospel of St. Luke, which recounted the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the pope said the miracle did “not happen in a spectacular way, but almost secretly” and that as the crowd eats, “they realize that Jesus is taking care of everything.”
“This is the Lord present in the Eucharist. He calls us to be citizens of heaven, but at the same time he considers the journey we have to face here on earth,” he said. “If I have hardly any bread in my sack, he knows and takes care of it himself.”
Just as Jesus orders the disciples to help him feed the crowd in the Gospel story, he said, Christians today must learn to take care of the needs of those around them who not only suffer physical hunger but also spiritual hunger.
“There is hunger for food around us, but also of companionship; there is hunger for consolation, friendship, good humor; there is hunger for attention, there is hunger to be evangelized,” the pope said.
In the Eucharist, he added, Christians find Jesus’ attention “to our needs and the invitation to do the same toward those who are beside us. We need to eat and feed others.”
Pope Francis said that when receiving the body and blood of Christ, Christians receive the assurance of the presence of Jesus, “who makes himself our traveling companion, he enters into our affairs, he visits us when we are lonely, giving us back a sense of enthusiasm.”
Giving himself in the Eucharist, “the Lord gives meaning to our lives, our obscurities, our doubts,” the pope said. “And this meaning that the Lord gives satisfies us. This gives us that ‘more’ that everyone is looking for, which is namely the presence of the Lord.”