CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.
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Dear brothers and sisters:
Yesterday we celebrated the great feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven and today we read in the Gospel these words from Jesus: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:51). We cannot remain indifferent to this parallel, which revolves around the symbol of “heaven.” Mary has been “elevated” to the place from which the Son had “come down.”
Naturally this biblical language expresses with figurative terminology something that does not entirely enter into the world of our concepts and images. But, let us pause for a moment to reflect. Jesus presents himself as the “living bread,” that is, the nourishment that contains the very life of God and is capable of giving [this life] to one who eats of him, the true nourishment that gives life, that deeply nourishes. Jesus says: “Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:51).
But then, from whom has the Son of God taken his “flesh,” his concrete and earthly humanity? He took it from the Virgin Mary. God took from her a human body to enter into our mortal human condition. In turn, at the end of an earthly existence, the body of the Virgin was taken to heaven by God and brought to enter into the celestial condition. This is an interchange in which God always takes the initiative, but in which in a certain sense, as we have seen on other occasions, he also has need of Mary, of the “yes” of a creature, of her flesh, of her concrete existence, to prepare the matter of his sacrifice: the body and blood to be offered on the cross as an instrument of eternal life, and, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, as spiritual food and drink.
Dear brothers and sisters: What happened to Mary is also valid, though in a different but real way, for every man and woman, because God asks each of us to welcome him, to place at his disposal our hearts and our bodies, the whole of our existence, our flesh — as the Bible says — so that he can dwell in the world.
He calls us to unite ourselves with him in the sacrament of the Eucharist, Bread broken for the life of the world, to together form the Church, his Body in history. And if we say “yes,” like Mary, in the same measure of this our “yes,” this mysterious interchange will also happen for us and in us: We will be assumed into the dignity of the One who has assumed our humanity.
The Eucharist is the means, the instrument of this reciprocal transformation, which always has God as the goal and the principal protagonist: He is the Head and we are the members. He is the Vine and we the branches. Whoever eats of this Bread and lives in communion with Jesus, allowing himself to be transformed by him and in him, is saved from eternal death: Certainly this person will die as everyone does, participating as well in the mystery of the passion and the cross of Christ, but he is no longer a slave of death and he will be raised up on the last day to enjoy the eternal feast with Mary and all the saints.
This mystery, this feast of God begins here below: It is a mystery of faith, hope and love, which is celebrated in the liturgy, especially the Eucharistic [liturgy], and is expressed in fraternal communion and service to our neighbor. Let us ask the holy Virgin to help us to always with faith nourish ourselves on the Bread of eternal life to experience already on earth the joy of heaven.[Translation by ZENIT] [After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father addressed the crowd in various languages. In English, he said:]
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. May your time here at Castel Gandolfo and in Rome deepen your faith in our Lord, the living bread, who brings us the gift of eternal life. Upon you and your families I invoke Almighty God’s abundant blessings of joy and peace!
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