Eucharist Helps Us to Understand Man, Says Cardinal

In Homily at Mass of the Lord’s Supper

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Eucharist helps us to better understand the nature of man, said the cardinal who presided on John Paul II’s behalf at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Because of his convalescence, the Pope was unable to be present in St. Peter’s Basilica, but he followed the celebration on television; his brief message was read at the beginning.

«I am with you in mind and heart, gathered at the tomb of the Apostle Peter on the occasion of the Holy Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which is the first act of the Easter triduum, apex of the liturgical year,» the papal message said.

After greeting the ambassadors to the Holy See who were present, the Holy Father in his text invited those on hand «to return spiritually» with Christ «to the Cenacle,» to «enter in depth in the mystery of his pasch.»

In his message, John Paul II said that on this night 2,000 years ago, Jesus «first washed the feet of the apostles, giving them an example of a love that becomes humble and concrete service. Then he consecrated the bread and wine, as sacrament of his Body and his Blood, surrendered in sacrifice for our salvation.»

«I have wished to dedicate to the sacrament of the Eucharist the year we are living: It finds in this celebration an extremely significant moment,» affirmed the Pope in reference to the Year of the Eucharist, which is being celebrated from October 2004 to October 2005.

In his homily, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo said the Eucharist, in which Christ is really present, enables us to begin to understand the true nature of man.

«Man’s tragedy is not to understand how much God loves him, in a dialogue of love that had its dawn on the morning of creation,» continued the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

It is possible to understand, when faced with the «great mystery» of love of the Eucharist, the «scandal» of «those who say they are Christians and betray that love with violence, enmity, and contempt for the poor,» he lamented.

«It is an abuse that they invoke the name of God and also in the name of God, sow hatred, conflicts and terrorism,» he said.

«The Eucharist widens the heart of the whole human family for the poor and needy, who have the right to a ‘globalization of solidarity’ and to recognition and respect of the rights of man and the rights of the family, which are fundamental,» the cardinal stated.

Finally, the prelate assured that «our fervent prayer is raised for the Holy Father, dauntless defender and witness of what is the authentic quality of life that we must proclaim and defend, in gratitude to the Lord for his very generous life of service to the Church and to humanity.»

The traditional rite of the washing of the feet of 12 priests took place after the homily.

At the Pope’s request, the offerings of the Mass will be given to the peoples of Venezuela who were hit by devastating floods in February.

During the prayer of the faithful, prayers were recited in different languages for the Pope, for the unity of Christians East and West, and for those who are suffering.

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