VATICAN CITY, JUNE 2, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of John Paul II´s address today to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square, before the recitation of the midday Angelus.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. Today the feast of the solemnity of Corpus Christi is celebrated in Italy and in several other countries. The Christian community gathers around the Eucharist and in it adores its most precious treasure: Christ really present under the species of consecrated bread and wine.
<br> The whole people leaves the churches and carries the Most Blessed Sacrament through the streets and squares of the cities. It is the risen Christ who walks on the roads of humanity and continues to offer his “flesh” to men as the authentic “bread of life” (see John 6:48,51). Today, as 2,000 years ago, “this is a hard saying” (John 6:60) for human intelligence, which remains overwhelmed by the mystery.
Faith is necessary, or rather faith vivified by love is necessary, to explore the fascinating depth of this presence of Christ under the “signs” of bread and wine. Only the one who believes and loves can understand something of the ineffable mystery, thanks to which God comes close to our littleness, seeks our infirmity, reveals himself for what he is, infinite saving love.
2. Precisely because of this, the Eucharist is the beating center of the community. From the very beginning, from the early community of Jerusalem, Christians gathered on the day of the Lord to renew in the Holy Mass the memorial of the death and resurrection of Christ. “Sunday” is the day of rest and praise, but its real meaning is lost without the Eucharist. Because of this, in the apostolic letter “Novo Millennio Ineunte,” I again proposed a reappraisal of Sunday and, in it, of the eucharistic celebration as a priority pastoral commitment. “It is a fundamental duty, to be fulfilled not just in order to observe a precept but as something felt as essential to a truly informed and consistent Christian life” (No. 36).
3. In adoring the Eucharist we cannot but think with gratitude of the Virgin Mary. It is suggested by the eucharistic hymn we often sing: “Ave, verum Corpus / natum de Maria Virgine.” Today let us ask the Mother of the Lord that every man might be able to taste the sweetness of communion with Jesus and become, thanks to the bread of life, a participant in his mystery of salvation and holiness.
[Translation by ZENIT]