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Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of 5 new Cardinals (28 June 2017)



Vatican Basilica
Wednesday, 28 June 2017



“Jesus was walking ahead of them”.  This is the picture that the Gospel we have just read (Mk 10:32-45) presents to us.  It serves as a backdrop to the act now taking place: this Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals.

Jesus walks resolutely towards Jerusalem.  He knows fully what awaits him there; on more than one occasion, he spoke of it to his disciples.  But there is a distance between the heart of Jesus and the hearts of the disciples, which only the Holy Spirit can bridge.  Jesus knows this, and so he is patient with them.  He speaks to them frankly and, above all, he goes before them.  He walks ahead of them.

Along the way, the disciples themselves are distracted by concerns that have nothing to do with the “direction” taken by Jesus, with his will, which is completely one with that of the Father”.  So it is that, as we heard, the two brothers James and John think of how great it would be to take their seats at the right and at the left of the King of Israel (cf. v. 37).  They are not facing reality!  They think they see, but they don’t.  They think they know, but they don’t.  They think they understand better than the others, but they don’t…

For the reality is completely different.  It is what Jesus sees and what directs his steps.  The reality is the cross.  It is the sin of the world that he came to take upon himself, and to uproot from the world of men and women.  It is the innocent who suffer and die as victims of war and terrorism; the forms of enslavement that continue to violate human dignity even in the age of human rights; the refugee camps which at times seem more like a hell than a purgatory; the systematic discarding of all that is no longer useful, people included.

This is what Jesus sees as he walks towards Jerusalem.  During his public ministry he made known the Father’s tender love by healing all who were oppressed by the evil one (cf. Acts 10:38).  Now he realizes that the moment has come to press on to the very end, to eliminate evil at its root.  And so, he walks resolutely towards the cross.

We too, brothers and sisters, are journeying with Jesus along this path.  I speak above all to you, dear new Cardinals.  Jesus “is walking ahead of you”, and he asks you to follow him resolutely on his way.  He calls you to look at reality, not to let yourselves be distracted by other interests or prospects.  He has not called you to become “princes” of the Church, to “sit at his right or at his left”.  He calls you to serve like him and with him.  To serve the Father and your brothers and sisters.  He calls you to face as he did the sin of the world and its effects on today’s humanity.  Follow him, and walk ahead of the holy people of God, with your gaze fixed on the Lord’s cross and resurrection.

And now, with faith and through the intercession of the Virgin Mother, let us ask the Holy Spirit to bridge every gap between our hearts and the heart of Christ, so that our lives may be completely at the service of God and all our brothers and sisters.


General Audience of 28 June 2017



Saint Peter's Square
Wednesday, 28 June 2017




Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now look to the example of the martyrs.  Their hope gave them the strength even to die for their faith in Christ.  The Lord himself warned his followers that, in proclaiming the Kingdom of God, they would encounter opposition and hostility in this world of sin and injustice.  Jesus asks his disciples to proclaim the Gospel by their lives of detachment from wealth and power, by their rejection of the spiral of hatred, violence and retaliation, and by their trust in his triumph over the power of sin and death.  As his followers, we know that the Lord will never abandon us.  By imitating the example of his own self-sacrifice and love, we demonstrate our faith and hope in him and we become his witnesses before the world.  In this sense, every Christian is a “martyr”, a witness to the sure hope that faith inspires.  The martyrs who even today lay down their lives for the faith do so out of love.  By their example and intercession, may we become ever more convincing witnesses, above all in the events of our daily lives, to our undying hope in the promises of Christ.

Santo Padre:

Saluto i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’odierna Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Scozia, Galles, Svezia, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Filippine e Stati Uniti d’America.  Rivolgo un saluto particolare ai partecipanti al Convegno sulla nuova Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis, assicurando la mia preghiera per il loro importante ministero.  Su tutti voi e sulle vostre famiglie invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore nostro Gesù Cristo.


I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from England, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines and the United States of America. I especially greet the participants in the Conference for the promotion of the new Programme of Priestly Formation, with the assurance of my prayers for their important ministry. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.


To the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (27 June 2017)


Tuesday, 27 June 2017



Your Eminence,
Dear Brothers in Christ,

I offer you a warm welcome and I thank you for being here for the celebration of Saints Peter and Paul, the principal patrons of this Church of Rome.  I am most grateful to His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and to the Holy Synod for having sent you, dear brothers, as their representatives, to share with us the joy of this feast.

Peter and Paul, as disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ, served the Lord in very different ways.  Yet in their diversity, both bore witness to the merciful love of God our Father, which each in his own fashion profoundly experienced, even to the sacrifice of his own life.  For this reason, from very ancient times the Church in the East and in the West combined in one celebration the commemoration of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul.  It is right to celebrate together their self-sacrifice for love of the Lord, for it is at the same time a commemoration of unity and diversity.  As you well know, the iconographical tradition represents the two apostles embracing one another, a prophetic sign of the one ecclesial communion in which legitimate differences ought to coexist.

The exchange of delegations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople on their respective patronal feasts increases our desire for the full restoration of communion between Catholics and Orthodox, of which we already have a foretaste in fraternal encounter, shared prayer and common service to the Gospel.  In the first millennium, Christians of East and West shared in the same Eucharistic table, preserving together the same truths of faith while cultivating a variety of theological, spiritual and canonical traditions compatible with the teaching of the apostles and the ecumenical councils.  That experience is a necessary point of reference and a source of inspiration for our efforts to restore full communion in our own day, a communion that must not be a bland uniformity.

Your presence affords me the welcome opportunity to recall that this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the visit of Blessed Paul VI to the Phanar in July 1967, and of the visit of Patriarch Athenagoras, of venerable memory, to Rome in October of that same year.  The example of these courageous and farsighted pastors, moved solely by love for Christ and his Church, encourages us to press forward in our journey towards full unity.  Fifty years ago, those two visits were events that gave rise to immense joy and enthusiasm among the faithful of the churches of Rome and of Constantinople, and led to the decision to send delegations for the respective patronal feasts, a practice that has continued to the present.

I am deeply grateful to the Lord for continuing to grant me occasions to meet my beloved brother Bartholomew.  In particular, I recall with gratitude and thanksgiving our recent meeting in Cairo, where I saw once more the profound convergence in our approach to certain challenges affecting the life of the Church and the world in our time.

Next September, in Leros, Greece, there will be a meeting of the Coordinating Committee of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, co-chaired by Your Eminence and Cardinal Kurt Koch, at the gracious invitation of Metropolitan Paisios.  It is my hope that the meeting will take place in a spiritual climate of attentiveness to the Lord’s will and in a clear recognition of the journey already being made together by many Catholic and Orthodox faithful in various parts of the world, and that it will prove most fruitful for the future of ecumenical dialogue.

Your Eminence, dear brothers, the unity of all his disciples was the heartfelt prayer that Jesus Christ offered to the Father on the eve of his passion and death (cf. Jn 17:21).  The fulfilment of this prayer is entrusted to God, but it also involves our docility and obedience to his will.  With trust in the intercession of Saints Peter and Paul, and of Saint Andrew, let us pray for one another and ask the Lord to make us instruments of communion and peace.  And I ask you, please, to continue to pray for me.


To participants in the General Chapter of the Congregation of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ (24 June 2017)


Consistory Hall
Saturday, 24 June 2017



Dear Brothers,

I am pleased to receive you on the occasion of your General Chapter.  I thank the Superior General for his kind words, and through you, I greet all your confrères present in fifteen countries on four continents.

As spiritual sons of Bogdan Janski, the apostle of Polish émigrés in France in the nineteenth century, you were founded in order to testify that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the basis of the Christian life, to proclaim the need for personal resurrection, and to support the community in its mission of service to the Kingdom of God.  In close connection to the charism of the Institute, you have chosen as the theme of this Chapter: Witnesses of the Presence of the Risen Lord: from Community to the World.  I would like to reflect with you on three particular phrases.

1. Witnesses of the Presence of the Risen Lord.  In a word, missionaries, apostles of the Living One.  In this regard, I would propose to you as an icon Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the apostles.  On Easter morn, having encountered the risen Jesus, she proclaimed him to the other disciples.  She sought Jesus dead and found him alive.  This is the joyful Good News she brought to the others: Christ is alive and he has the power to conquer death and bestow eternal life.

This brings us to a first reflection.  Nostalgia for a past that was rich in vocations and impressive achievements must not prevent you from seeing the life that the Lord is causing to blossom, today too, in your midst.  Do not yield to nostalgia, but be men who, moved by faith in the God of history and of life, proclaim the coming of the dawn amid the darkness of the night (cf. Is 21:11-12).  Men of contemplation, who, with the eyes of the heart fixed on the Lord, can see what others, caught up in the concerns of this world, cannot.  Men capable of proclaiming, with the boldness born of the Spirit, that Jesus Christ is alive and is Lord.

A second reflection is this.  Mary Magdalene and the other women who went to the tomb that morning (cf. Lk 24:1-8) were women “on the move”: they abandoned their “nest” and set out; they took a risk.  The Spirit is calling you too, Brothers of the Resurrection, to be men who set out, to be an Institute “on the move” towards every human periphery, wherever the light of the Gospel needs to be brought.  The Spirit is calling you to be seekers of the face of God wherever it is to be found: not in the tombs – “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (v. 5) – but where it lives: in the community and in mission.

2. From Community to the World.  Like the disciples of Emmaus, allow the Risen One to walk at your side, both as individuals and in community, especially along the path of disappointment and abandonment (cf. Lk 24:11ff.).  This encounter will make you run once more, filled with joy and without delay, to the community, and from the community to the entire world, in order to tell others that “The Lord is risen indeed!” (v. 34).

Those who believe in the Risen One have the courage to “go forth” and bring to others the Good News of the resurrection, embracing the risks of testimony, even as the Apostles did.  How many people are waiting for this joyful proclamation!  It is not right for us to deprive them of it.  If the resurrection of Christ is our greatest certainty and our most precious treasure, how can we not run to proclaim it to others?

A concrete way of showing this is fraternal life in community.  It entails accepting the brothers the Lord has given us: not those whom we choose, but those the Lord has given us. As the Apostle Paul tells us, now that Christ has risen from the dead, we can no longer look at others from a human point of view (cf. 2 Cor 5:16).  We view them and we accept them as a gift from the Lord.  Others are a gift not to be taken for granted or looked down upon, but a gift to be received with respect, because in our brothers, especially if they are weak and frail, Christ comes to meet us.

I urge you to be builders of evangelical communities and not merely their “consumers”.  I ask you to make fraternal life in community your primary form of evangelization.  May communities be open to mission and flee every form of self-absorption, which leads to death.  Do not let problems – for problems will always be there – overwhelm you.  Instead, cultivate the mysticism of encounter and, together with the brothers the Lord has given you, as you dwell “in the light of the loving relationship of the three divine Persons”, seek ways and means to move forward (cf. Apostolic Letter To All Consecrated People, 21 November 2014, I, 2).  In a society that tends to reduce everything to flat uniformity, where injustice gives rise to divisions and hostility, in a world torn and aggressive, ensure that the witness of fraternal life and community will never be lacking!

3. Prophets of joy and of Easter hope.  The Risen Lord poured out upon his disciples two forms of consolation: interior joy and the light of the paschal mystery.  The joy of recognizing the presence of the Risen Jesus draws you into his Person and his will: for this very reason, it leads to mission.  The light of the paschal mystery brings new hope, a “trustworthy hope”, as Pope Benedict XVI has said (Spe Salvi, 2).  Risen in order to enable others to rise, set free in order to bring freedom to others, born to new life in order to bring new life to birth in everyone who crosses our path: this is your vocation and mission as Brothers of the Resurrection.

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Lk 24:5).  May these words continually resound in your hearts.  They will help you to overcome moments of sadness and will open before you horizons of joy and hope.  They will enable you to shatter tombstones, and give you the strength to proclaim the Good News in this culture so often marked by death.  If we have the courage to descend to our personal and community tombs, we will see how Jesus can make us rise from them.  This will enable us to rediscover the joy, the happiness and the passion of those moments when we first made of our lives a gift to God and others.

Dear brothers, I conclude by repeating something I have often said to consecrated persons, especially during the Year of Consecrated Life: remember the past with gratitude, live the present with passion, and embrace the future with hope.  A grateful memory of the past: not archaeology, because charism is always a wellspring of living water, not a bottle of distilled water.  A passion for maintaining ever alive and young our first love, who is Jesus.  Hope, in the knowledge that Jesus is with us and guides our steps, even as he guided the steps of our founders.

May Mary, who in a singular way experienced and continues to experience the mystery of her Son’s Resurrection, watch over your journey with a Mother’s love.  I give all of you my blessing.  And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me. Thank you.


Can I Get a Refund?

Stay tuned to this space for a series of videos about various topics. In the meantime, what do you think about this short story? What does the consumer mentality toward children say about our society?

The post Can I Get a Refund? appeared first on Marriage Unique for a Reason.

To the 75th Convention of Serra International (23 June 2017)


Paul VI Audience Hall
Friday, 23 June  2017



Your Eminence, Your Excellency,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to greet all of you.  From throughout the world you have gathered for this International Convention, which has as its theme: Siempre Adelante. The Courage of Vocation.  In the joy of the Gospel, and with that boldness typical of the Christian mission, you have gathered here to discover anew, at the school of the Master, the meaning of every Christian vocation: to offer our lives as a gift, “anointing” our brothers and sisters with the tenderness and mercy of God.  I thank Mr Dante Vannini, the President of Serra International, for his kind words.  I would like to reflect on something he said which, I believe, is central to the experience of faith: to be friends.

To be friends to priests, sustaining their vocation and accompanying them in their ministry: with this great gift you enrich the Church!  This is, above all else, what a Serran is – a “special friend” whom the Lord has brought into the lives of seminarians and priests.

Today the word “friend” has become a bit overused.  In our daily lives, we run into various people whom we call “friends”, but that is just a word we say.  Within virtual communications, “friend” is one of the most frequently found words.  Yet we know that superficial knowledge has little to do with that experience of encounter or closeness evoked by the word “friend”. 

When Jesus speaks of his “friends”, he points to a hard truth: true friendship involves an encounter that draws me so near to the other person that I give something of my very self.  Jesus says to his disciples: “No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15:15).  He thus establishes a new relationship between man and God, one that transcends the law and is grounded in trust and love.  At the same time, Jesus frees friendship from sentimentalism and presents it to us as a responsibility that embraces our entire life: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).

We become friends, then, only if our encounter is more than something outward or formal, and becomes instead a way of sharing in the life of another person, an experience of compassion, a relationship that involves giving ourselves for others.

It is good for us to reflect on what friends do.  They stand at our side, gently and tenderly, along our journey; they listen to us closely, and can see beyond mere words; they are merciful when faced with our faults; they are non-judgmental.  They are able to walk with us, helping us to feel joy in knowing that we are not alone.  They do not always indulge us but, precisely because they love us, they honestly tell us when they disagree.  They are there to pick us up whenever we fall.

This is the also the kind of friendship that you seek to offer to priests.  The Serra Club helps foster this beautiful vocation of being laity who are friends to priests.  Friends who know how to accompany and sustain them in faith, in fidelity to prayer and apostolic commitment.  Friends who share the wonder of a vocation, the courage of a definitive decision, the joy and fatigue of ministry.  Friends who can offer priests support and regard their generous efforts and human failings with understanding and tender love.  In this way, you are to priests like the home of Bethany, where Jesus entrusted his weariness to Martha and Mary, and, thanks to their care, was able to find rest and refreshment.

There is another phrase that describes you.  You chose it for the theme of this convention: Siempre adelante!  Keep moving forward!  Like you, I believe that this is a synonym for the Christian vocation.  For the life of every missionary disciple bears the impress of his or her vocation.  The voice of the Lord invites his disciples to leave the safety of their homeland and to begin the “holy journey” towards the promised land of encounter with him and with our brothers and sisters.  Vocation is an invitation to go forth from ourselves, to rejoice in our relationship with the Lord, and to journey along the ways that he opens up before us.

Of course, we cannot make progress unless we take a risk.  We do not advance toward the goal if, as the Gospel says, we are afraid to lose our lives (cf. Mt 16:25-26).  No ship would ever set out into the deep if it feared leaving the safety of the harbour.  So too, Christians cannot enter into the transforming experience of God’s love unless they are open to new possibilities, and not tied to their own plans and cherished ways of doing things.  Pastoral structures can fall into this same temptation, being concerned more with self-preservation than with adapting themselves to the service of the Gospel.

On the other hand, when Christians go about their daily lives without fear, they can discover God’s constant surprises.  They need but have the courage to dare, not to let fear stifle their creativity, not to be suspicious of new things, but instead to embrace the challenges which the Spirit sets before them, even when this means changing plans and charting a different course.

We can take as our inspiration Saint Junípero, as he made his way, limping, towards San Diego to plant the cross there!  I fear those Christians who do not keep walking, but remain enclosed in their own little niche.  It is better to go forward limping, and even at times to fall, while always trusting in the mercy of God, than to be “museum Christians” who are afraid of change.  Even though they received a charism or vocation, instead of serving the eternal newness of the Gospel, they are caught up in defending themselves and their own roles.

A vocation is a calling received from an Other.  It entails letting go of ourselves, setting out and placing ourselves at the service of a greater cause.  In humility, we become co-workers in the Lord’s vineyard, renouncing every spirit of possession and vainglory.  How sad it is to see that at times we, men and women of the Church, do not know how to cede our place.  We do not let go of our responsibilities serenely, but find it hard to hand over to others the works that the Lord had entrusted to us!

So you too, siempre adelante!  With courage, creativity and boldness.  Do not be afraid to renew your structures.  Do not rest on your laurels, but be ever ready to try new things.  As in the Olympic Games, may you always be ready to “pass the torch”, above all to future generations, knowing that the flame is lit from on high, precedes our response and exceeds our efforts.  Such is the Christian mission: “One sows and another reaps” (Jn 4:37).

Dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you to be true friends to seminarians and priests, showing your love for them by promoting vocations and through prayer and pastoral cooperation.  Please, keep pressing forward!  Forward in hope, forward with your mission, ever looking beyond, opening new horizons, making room for the young and preparing the future.  The Church and priestly vocations need you.  May Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church and Mother of priests, be with you every step of the way.  And I ask you, please, to pray for me!


General Audience of 21 June 2017



Wednesday, 21 June 2017




Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now look to the saints, to “those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith”.  The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the saints as “a great cloud of witnesses” who support us on our pilgrim way through this present life.  In the sacraments of baptism, marriage and ordination, we pray the Litany of the Saints to implore their intercession and help in the particular vocation we have received.  The lives of the saints remind us that the Christian ideal is not unattainable.  Despite our human weakness, we can always count on God’s grace and the prayers of the saints to sustain us in faith and in hope for the transfiguration of this world and the fulfilment of Christ’s promises in the next.  May the Lord enable all of us to become saints, to be living images of Christ in our time.  May he strengthen us to be his witnesses and to bring the Gospel to all our brothers and sisters, especially the suffering and those most in need of its message of undying hope.

Holy Father:

Saluto i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’odierna Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Scozia, Grecia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Filippine e Stati Uniti d’America.  Su tutti voi e sulle vostre famiglie invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore nostro Gesù Cristo.


I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from Scotland, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines and the United States of America.  Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.


To a Delegation of the National Football League (NFL) (21 June 2017)


Room adjacent to Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 21 June 2017



Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet you, the members and directors of the American Pro Football Hall of Fame, and to welcome you to the Vatican.  As many of you know, I am an avid follower of “football”, but where I come from, the game is played very differently!

I thank Mr. Anderson for his gracious words of introduction, which stressed the traditional values of sportsmanship that you seek to embody, both on the field and in your own lives, your families and your communities.  Our world, and especially our young people, need models, persons who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents, and, in so doing, to point the way to a better future for our societies. 

Teamwork, fair play and the pursuit of personal excellence are the values – in the religious sense, we can say virtues – that have guided your own commitment on the field.  Yet these same values are urgently needed off the field, on all levels of our life as a community.  They are the values that help build a culture of encounter, in which we anticipate and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters, and combat the exaggerated individualism, indifference and injustice that hold us back from living as one human family.  How greatly our world needs this culture of encounter!

Dear friends, I pray that your visit to the Eternal City will increase your gratitude for the many gifts you have received and inspire you to share them ever more generously in shaping a more fraternal world.

Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

May God bless you all!



Pilgrimage of the Holy Father to Bozzolo (diocese of Cremona) and Barbiana (diocese of Florence) - 20 June 2017


20 JUNE 2017


Live video transmission by CTV
(Vatican Television Center)

Live CTV


Tuesday 20 June 2017

7:30 Departure by helicopter from the Vatican heliport  
9:00 Arrival at the sports field of Bozzolo, Mantua  
  Parish of San Pietro: prayer at the tomb of Don Primo Mazzolari (1890-1959)

The Holy Father will give a commemorative address to the faithful present in the Church
10:30 Departure from the sports field of Bozzolo  
11:15 Arrival at the forecourt in front of the Church of Barbiana  
  Private visit to the cemetery and prayer at the tomb of Don Lorenzo Milani (1923-1967), on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his death  
  In the Church: encounter with the living disciples of Don Milani and brief visit to the vicarage

In the adjacent garden:
the Holy Father gives a commemorative address, in the presence of the disciples, to a group of priests from the diocese and some young people housed in family residences
12:30 Departure from Barbiana  
13:15 Return to the Vatican  


Holy Mass on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (18 June 2017)



Saint John Lateran Square
Sunday, 18 June 2017



On this Solemnity of Corpus Domini, the idea of memory comes up again and again.  Moses says to the people: “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you….  Lest… you forget the Lord your God, who fed you in the wilderness with manna” (Dt 8:2, 14, 16).  Jesus will tell us: “Do this in memory of me” (1 Cor 11:24).  Saint Paul will tell his disciple: “Remember Jesus Christ” (2 Tim 2:8).  The “living bread, come down from heaven” (Jn 6:51) is the sacrament of memory, reminding us, in a real and tangible way, of the story of God’s love for us. 

Today, to each of us, the word of God says, Remember!  Remembrance of the Lord’s deeds guided and strengthened his people’s journey through the desert; remembering all that the Lord has done for us is the foundation of our own personal history of salvation.  Remembrance is essential for faith, as water is for a plant.  A plant without water cannot stay alive and bear fruit.  Nor can faith, unless it drinks deeply of the memory of all that the Lord has done for us.  “Remember Jesus Christ”.

Remember.  Memory is important, because it allows us to dwell in love, to be mind-ful, never forgetting who it is who loves us and whom we are called to love in return.  Yet nowadays, this singular ability that the Lord has given us is considerably weakened.  Amid so much frantic activity, many people and events seem to pass in a whirl.  We quickly turn the page, looking for novelty while unable to retain memories.  Leaving our memories behind and living only for the moment, we risk remaining ever on the surface of things, constantly in flux, without going deeper, without the broader vision that reminds us who we are and where we are going.  In this way, our life grows fragmented, and dulled within. 

Yet today’s Solemnity reminds us that in our fragmented lives, the Lord comes to meet us with a loving “fragility”, which is the Eucharist.  In the Bread of Life, the Lord comes to us, making himself a humble meal that lovingly heals our memory, wounded by life’s frantic pace of life.  The Eucharist is the memorial of God’s love.  There, “[Christ’s] sufferings are remembered” (II Vespers, antiphon for the Magnificat) and we recall God’s love for us, which gives us strength and support on our journey.  This is why the Eucharistic commemoration does us so much good: it is not an abstract, cold and superficial memory, but a living remembrance that comforts us with God’s love.  A memory that is both recollection and imitation.  The Eucharist is flavoured with Jesus’ words and deeds, the taste of his Passion, the fragrance of his Spirit.  When we receive it, our hearts are overcome with the certainty of Jesus’ love.  In saying this, I think in particular of you boys and girls, who recently received First Holy Communion, and are here today in great numbers. 

The Eucharist gives us a grateful memory, because it makes us see that we are the Father’s children, whom he loves and nourishes.  It gives us a free memory, because Jesus’ love and forgiveness heal the wounds of the past, soothe our remembrance of wrongs experienced and inflicted.  It gives us a patient memory, because amid all our troubles we know that the Spirit of Jesus remains in us.  The Eucharist encourages us: even on the roughest road, we are not alone; the Lord does not forget us and whenever we turn to him, he restores us with his love.

The Eucharist also reminds us that we are not isolated individuals, but one body.  As the people in the desert gathered the manna that fell from heaven and shared it in their families (cf. Ex 16), so Jesus, the Bread come down from Heaven, calls us together to receive him and to share him with one another.  The Eucharist is not a sacrament “for me”; it is the sacrament of the many, who form one body, God’s holy and faithful people.  Saint Paul reminded us of this: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:17).  The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity.  Whoever receives it cannot fail to be a builder of unity, because building unity has become part of his or her “spiritual DNA”.  May this Bread of unity heal our ambition to lord it over others, to greedily hoard things for ourselves, to foment discord and criticism.  May it awaken in us the joy of living in love, without rivalry, jealousy or mean-spirited gossip.

Now, in experiencing this Eucharist, let us adore and thank the Lord for this greatest of gifts: the living memorial of his love, that makes us one body and leads us to unity.