The Eucharist Unifies the Church, Says Benedict XVI

Urges Overcoming Differences to Bring Hope to World

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NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 6, 2010 ( Benedict XVI is underlining the importance of the Eucharist, noting that the faithful who feed on the Body and Blood of Christ are gathered into one people of God.

The Pope stated this today at a Mass at the Eleftheria Sports Centre in Nicosia, in which he presented the «instrumentum laboris» (working document) for the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in Rome next October 10-24.

Various patriarchs and bishops of the Middle East participated in the Mass along with representatives of their communities. Among them was the Cypriot Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II.

The sports center, which holds 7,000, was packed full. Many of the faithful followed the ceremony from outside, where chairs were placed to accommodate those who could not enter the building.

«Let me also say how glad I am to have this opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist in the company of so many of the faithful of Cyprus, a land blessed by the apostolic labors of St. Paul and St. Barnabas,» the Pontiff said in his homily.

He extended «a particular greeting to the Filipino, Sri Lankan and other immigrant communities who form such a significant grouping within the Catholic population of this island.»

«I pray that your presence here will enrich the life and worship of the parishes to which you belong, and that you in turn will draw much spiritual sustenance from the ancient Christian heritage of the land that you have made your home,» the Holy Father said.

Corpus Christi

He spoke about today’s solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, known as the feast of Corpus Christi, noting that in the reflection on the Eucharist, «we come to a deeper understanding of the mystery of communion which binds together those who belong to the Church.»

«All who feed on the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist are brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit to form God’s one holy people,» Benedict XVI affirmed.

«Each of us who belong to the Church needs to leave the closed world of his individuality and accept the ‘companionship’ of others who break bread with us,» he said. «We must think not in terms of ‘me’ but ‘we.'»

«Breaking down the barriers between us and our neighbors is the first prerequisite for entering the divine life to which we are called,» the Pope said.

He continued, «We need to be liberated from all that imprisons us and isolates us: fear and mistrust towards others, greed and selfishness, unwillingness to run the risk of vulnerability to which we expose ourselves when we are open to love.»

«Christ is alive in us, his body, the Church, his priestly people,» the Pontiff acknowledged. «By feeding on him in the Eucharist and receiving the Holy Spirit in our hearts we truly become the Body of Christ that we receive, we are truly in communion with him and with each other, and we truly become instruments, in witness to him before the world.»

He noted: «We are called to overcome our differences, to bring peace and reconciliation where there is conflict, to offer the world a message of hope.

«We are called to reach out to those in need, generously sharing our earthly goods with those less fortunate than ourselves.

«And we are called to proclaim unceasingly the death and resurrection of the Lord, until he comes.»

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