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Corpus Christi homily by Pope Francis

Below is the Vatican provided translation of Pope Francis’ homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (“Corpus Christi”) given May 29 in the square in front of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.

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«Do this in remembrance of me» (1 Cor 11:24-25).

Twice the Apostle Paul, writing to the community in Corinth, recalls this command of Jesus in his account of the institution of the Eucharist. It is the oldest testimony we have to the words of Christ at the Last Supper.

“Do this”. That is, take bread, give thanks and break it; take the chalice, give thanks, and share it. Jesus gives the command to repeat this action by which he instituted the memorial of his own Pasch, and in so doing gives us his Body and his Blood. This action reaches us today: it is the “doing” of the Eucharist which always has Jesus as its subject, but which is made real through our poor hands anointed by the Holy Spirit.

“Do this”. Jesus on a previous occasion asked his disciples to “do” what was so clear to him, in obedience to the will of the Father. In the Gospel passage that we have just heard, Jesus says to the disciples in front of the tired and hungry crowds: “Give them something to eat yourselves” (Lk9:13). Indeed, it is Jesus who blesses and breaks the loaves and provides sufficient food to satisfy the whole crowd, but it is the disciples who offer the five loaves and two fish. Jesus wanted it this way: that, instead of sending the crowd away, the disciples would put at his disposal what little they had. And there is another gesture: the pieces of bread, broken by the holy and venerable hands of Our Lord, pass into the poor hands of the disciples, who distribute these to the people. This too is the disciples “doing” with Jesus; with him they are able to “give them 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 (cf. Jn6:48-58). And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish which we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all.

Breaking: this is the other word explaining the meaning of those words: “Do this in remembrance of me”. Jesus was broken; he is broken for us. And he asks us to give ourselves, to break ourselves, as it were, for others. This “breaking bread” became the icon, the sign for recognizing Christ and Christians. We think of Emmaus: they knew him “in the breaking of the bread” (Lk24:35). We recall the first community of Jerusalem: “They held steadfastly… to the breaking of the bread” (Acts 2:42). From the outset it is the Eucharist which becomes the centre and pattern of the life of the Church. But we think also of all the saints – famous or anonymous – who have “broken” themselves, their own life, in order to “give something to eat” to their brothers and sisters. How many mothers, how many fathers, together with the slices of bread they provide each day on the tables of their homes, have broken their hearts to let their children grow, and grow well! How many Christians, as responsible citizens, have broken their own lives to defend the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those discriminated! Where do they find the strength to do this? It is in the Eucharist: in the power of the Risen Lord’s love, who today too breaks bread for us and repeats: “Do this in remembrance of me”.

May this action of the Eucharistic procession, which we will carry out shortly, respond to Jesus’ 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.

Humility, Poverty and Trusting in God

Pope Francis’ preparation for Christmas: humility, poverty, and trust.

[From zenit.org. December 15, 2015]

The Church, Pope Francis says, must be three things: humble, poor and trusting in the
Lord.

The Pontiff stressed this during his daily morning Mass at his residence Casa Santa
Marta, reported Vatican Radio, noting that the Church’s mission is in following the
Beatitudes, and that its riches are in the poor.

Reflecting on the first reading from the Book of Zephaniah in which Jesus rebukes the
chief priests and warns them that even prostitutes will precede them into the Kingdom
of Heaven, Pope Francis observed that still today temptations can corrupt the witness
of the Church.

“A Church that is truly faithful to the Lord,” Francis said, “must be humble, poor and
trusting in God”.

Humility

To be a humble Church or a humble person, the Jesuit explained, one must be
prepared to say: “I am a sinner.” Humility, Francis underscored, is not “a pretense” or
“theatrical attitude.”

True humility demands that the Church and every one of us takes a first step and
recognizes one’s sinfulness, and is not “judgmental, pointing to the defects of others
and gossiping about them.”

Poverty

Poverty, which “is the first of the Beatitudes,” Francis noted, is the second step. To be
poor in spirit, he explained, means that one is “attached only to the riches of God.”
Given this, he added, we must say “no to a Church that is attached to money, that
thinks of money, that thinks of how to earn money.”

The Pope recalled the martyrdom of the Deacon Lawrence, an heroic witness in the
first millennium who assembled the poor before the emperor saying they represented
the real gold and silver of the Church, and he warned against some ancient customs
which demanded monetary offers from pilgrims in order to pass through the Holy
Door.

“As is known,” the Holy Father mentioned, “in a temple of the diocese, to pass
through the Holy Door, naively they said to people that you had to make an offer: this
is not the Church of Jesus, this is the Church of these chiefs priests, attached to
money.”

Trusting in God

The third step for this humble Church, Pope Francis said, is to always trust in the Lord
that never disappoints.

“Where is my faith? In power, in friends, in money? It is in the Lord! The legacy that
God promised to leave us is of a humble and poor people who trust in the name of the
Lord. Humble because it knows it sins; poor because it is attached to the riches of
God; trusting in the Lord because it knows that only He has its good at heart,” he said.
Pope Francis concluded with the prayer, that “as we prepare for Christmas,” we have
“a humble heart, a poor heart, a heart that trusts in the Lord who never disappoints.”

–Sincerely in Christ,
Fr Greg

Don’t Forget to Pray for Our Pope

This is a historic week in our beloved city of Washington, and particularly for the Archdiocese. If you are not able to be with Pope Francis physically on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, be with him spiritually.

PRAY that God will protect him and keep everyone safe during the events. PRAY that God will inspire his words, and that he will speak the truth in love.

PRAY that all Americans will be open to the Holy Spirit through his words and actions of Pope Francis.

PRAY that our city and country will receive many graces this week!

Below are some excerpts from Cardinal Wuerl’s interview with the Catholic Standard which prepare us well for the Holy Father’s visit.

–Sincerely in Christ, Fr Greg

“While I do not know what Pope Francis will say when he speaks to the President or addresses Congress and the United Nations, I suspect that whatever it is, it will be pastoral in tone, challenging in content and engaging in its delivery. Pope Francis will have an opportunity to speak to the political leaders of our nation and representatives of political leaders around the world. Already this pontificate is marked with the pope’s call for respect for human dignity, our need to care for one another as members of the human family and at the same time our obligations towards the environment, the care of our common home. I would not be surprised to find any or all of these as part of his messages. Just as important as what the Holy Father says – or perhaps even more important – is what we do in response.

“There are many ways to prepare for the visit of Pope Francis, the Successor of Peter who, above all else, brings to us Jesus Christ. Spiritually, I hope we will all take advantage of this moment to renew our own faith conviction, frequent the sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist, and at the same time share our own enthusiasm for our Holy Father and our faith in the Church he represents with our neighbors. The Walk with Francis Pledge is also a way of saying to the pope that we recognize his message, embrace it and try to live it. The best way we can prepare is by that interior, spiritual conversion to which we are called every day as Christians…

“(After) the Holy Father leaves the Archdiocese of Washington, I hope part of his legacy will be that afterglow that continues to warm our hearts, challenge our consciences and deepen our faith. Not only will this be a time of grace in which we ourselves are renewed, but this visit van be a leaven in the whole of society. It is an important opportunity to evangelize those who perhaps do not really know what Christ and his Church are all about. Touched by the Gospel love and truth in this way, through Pope Francis and us in communion with him, our city and nation can grow and take just a few steps toward God’s kingdom.”–Cardinal Wuerl

We Are Called to Serve the Poor

From today’s second reading: “Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?” – Jas 2:5

How blessed are we as a parish to serve those who are heirs of the kingdom? How blessed are we to serve the poor in the world through the Pope Francis Outreach Center? The Catholic Standard has documented the work that the Lord does through our helping hands and hearts in a way that will please you immensely. It has published an excellent online article that will be in the main print edition soon of Pope Francis’s visit to Washington. Below are some excerpts from the online article. Praise God for the Center and for the beautiful depiction of it through the Catholic Standard!

Volunteers and staff of the Pope Francis Outreach Center in Southeast Washington say they hope the upcoming visit to Washington of its namesake will help the faithful better know and love the poor.

“Pope Francis said that the poor are not to be pitied because Jesus is present among them. In their suffering, they know Christ in a special way,” said Ryan Hehman, director of Assumption Parish’s Pope Francis Outreach Center. “We hope our efforts reach out to those who hurt the most and are in need the most, especially those in need not just of material help, but of love and friendship.”

“Pope Francis lives as poor a life as he can to be like Christ who was poor, and to be in solidarity with the poor… “We want to represent the generosity of God. In the Gospels we learn ‘the first shall be last and the last shall be first,’” (Fr. Shaffer) said. “In this world, the people we serve are last, but in the Kingdom of God they are first. That is an anomaly that God taps into that the people can identify with.”

Volunteer Richard Miller said he has served at the center “for 20-some years now, and as long as God gives me the strength, I’ll keep on doing it.” “My work here has taught me what it means to give to others,” the 74-year-old member of Assumption Parish said. “The most important thing is to care about those we serve. If you don’t care, then you can’t be a volunteer.”

Jeannette Thomas, a 40-year member of the parish, volunteers with the outreach center’s clothing distribution. “We give people the best. Everything we give is clean and sorted and ready to wear,” she said. “That is because we are working for the Father in His house, and these are His clothes we give.”

–Sincerely in Christ, Fr Greg