Pope Francis said Sunday that we need to “enlarge our hearts” to truly appreciate the gift of the Eucharist.
Celebrating Corpus Christi Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica June 6, the pope noted that Jesus instituted the Eucharist in the large Upper Room in Jerusalem.
He said: “We need to enlarge our hearts. We need to break out of the small room of our ego and enter the vast expanse of wonder and adoration.”
The pope lamented that this attitude of adoration was missing in “so many movements” in the Church.
“But if this is missing, if amazement and adoration are missing, there is no road that leads to the Lord. There will be no synod, nothing,” he said.
“This is the attitude before the Eucharist, this is what we need: adoration. The Church too must be a large room. Not a small and closed circle, but a community with arms wide open, welcoming to all.”
He continued: “Let us ask ourselves this when someone approaches who is hurting, who has made a mistake, who has gone astray in life: is the Church, this Church, a large room to welcome this person and lead him or her to the joy of the encounter with Christ?”
“The Eucharist wants to nourish those who are tired and hungry along the way, let us not forget that! A Church of the pure and perfect is a room with no place for anyone; the Church with open doors, which gathers and celebrates around Christ, is instead a great hall where everyone — all, righteous and sinners — can enter.”
Pope Francis also dedicated his Sunday Angelus address to the feast of Corpus Christi, celebrated on Thursday at the Vatican, but observed on Sunday in Italy and other countries.
The pope celebrated the live-streamed Mass, marking the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, at the Altar of the Chair. A limited number of people attended due to continuing coronavirus restrictions. They wore face coverings and sat spaced apart.
Before the Gospel reading, the choir sang the sequence “Lauda Sion,” written by St. Thomas Aquinas at the request of Pope Urban IV for the new Mass of the feast of Corpus Christi.
“Lauda Sion” is one of four sequences in the Roman Missal, along with “Victimae paschali laudes,” sung at Easter, “Veni Sancte Spiritus,” at Pentecost, and “Dies irae,” at Requiem Masses.
In his homily, the pope reflected on three images in the Gospel reading. The first was that of the man carrying a pitcher of water.
“Jesus tells his disciples that the Passover meal can be eaten wherever a man carrying a pitcher of water leads them. To celebrate the Eucharist, therefore, we need first to recognize our thirst for God, to sense our need for him, to long for his presence and love, to realize that we cannot go it alone, but need the Food and Drink of eternal life to sustain us on our journey,” he said.
“The drama of the present time, we can say, is that this thirst is felt less and less. Questions about God are no longer asked, desire for God has faded, seekers of God have become increasingly rare. God no longer attracts us because we no longer acknowledge our deep thirst for him.”
The pope continued: “Our thirst for God brings us to the altar. Where that thirst is lacking, our celebrations become dry and lifeless. Even as Church, then, it is not enough that the usual little group meets to celebrate the Eucharist; we need to go out into the city, to encounter people and to learn how to recognize and revive their thirst for God and their desire for the Gospel.”
The second image, he said, was that of the spacious Upper Room, which challenges us to expand our hearts.
The third and final image from the Gospel reading was that of Jesus breaking the bread.
“In the Eucharist, we contemplate and worship the God of love. The Lord who breaks no one, yet allows himself to be broken. The Lord who does not demand sacrifices, but sacrifices himself. The Lord who asks nothing but gives everything,” he said.
“In celebrating and experiencing the Eucharist, we too are called to share in this love. For we cannot break bread on Sunday if our hearts are closed to our brothers and sisters. We cannot partake of that Bread if we do not give bread to the hungry. We cannot share that Bread unless we share the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in need.”
“In the end, and the end of our solemn Eucharistic liturgies as well, only love will remain. Even now, our Eucharistic celebrations are transforming the world to the extent that we are allowing ourselves to be transformed and to become bread broken for others.”
At the end of the Mass, there was an extended period of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by Benediction.
In his homily, the pope noted that, for a second year in the row, he was unable to lead a procession with the Blessed Sacrament in the feast of Corpus Christi due to coronavirus measures.
Processions, he said, reminded us that we are called to go out and bring Jesus to others.
“May we become a Church with pitcher in hand, a Church that reawakens thirst and brings water. Let us open wide our hearts in love, so that we can become be the large and welcoming room where everyone can enter and meet the Lord,” he urged.