ROME – The Eucharist has the power to unite people, strengthen them and remind them that only God is worthy of worship, said Pope Benedict XVI at a Mass marking the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
The May 22 Mass at Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran was followed by a traditional Corpus Christi procession through the streets of Rome to the Basilica of St. Mary Major for eucharistic adoration and Benediction.
The pope rode in a canopied flatbed truck to St. Mary’s, kneeling in front of a monstrance with the Eucharist. Thousands of priests, seminarians, religious, altar servers, members of Catholic sodalities and the faithful accompanied the pope on foot.
In his homily at the Mass, the pope said the rites and rituals of the feast day explain what the feast is about: "First, we are gathered around the altar of the Lord to be together in his presence; second, there will be the procession, which is walking with the Lord"; and, finally, all the faithful will kneel before the Eucharist, honouring Jesus Christ who gave his life for the salvation of all.
Pope Benedict said the celebration of the Mass, gathering everyone around the same altar, is a reminder that all the faithful have been united into the body of Christ despite all their differences.
Unity is "the truth and the strength of the Christian revolution", he said. Around the Eucharist "people diverse on account of age, sex, social condition (and) political ideology" gather and become one, he said.
Pope Benedict said Catholics must always be vigilant to ensure that at every celebration of the Eucharist all Catholics are welcome, no matter their "differences of nationality, profession, social class or political ideas".
By walking in procession and following Jesus present in the Eucharist, he said, Catholics remind themselves that "the Lord Jesus liberates us from our paralysis, he makes us get up and proceed, he helps us take a step forward, then another".
Christ in the Eucharist gives people strength when they are feeling battered or uncomfortable, he said.
"The Eucharist is the sacrament of God, who does not leave us alone in our journey, but stands at our side and shows us the way," the pope said.
Finally, he said, kneeling in adoration before the Eucharist "is the most valid and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday and today. Kneeling before the Eucharist is a profession of freedom: One who bows to Jesus cannot and must not prostrate himself before any earthly power, no matter how strong.
"To adore the body of Christ means to believe that there, in that piece of bread, there really is Christ who gives meaning to our lives, to the immense universe as well as to the smallest creature and to all of human history as well as to the briefest existence," the pope said. -cns