ANCONA, Italy, SEPT. 6, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Amid worldwide grappling with the economic crisis, Benedict XVI's representative at Italy's 25th National Eucharistic Congress is proposing the Eucharist as an invitation to solidarity.
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re opened the congress in Ancona on Sunday.
He said that for today's society, marked as it is with "so much egoism," the Eucharist is "an appeal for openness toward others, to be able to love and to be able to forgive."
The Eucharist "is an invitation to solidarity and commitment to the poor, the suffering, the little ones, the marginalized," the cardinal reflected. "It is light to recognize the face of Christ in the face of our brothers. To acknowledge Christ in the Holy Host, in fact, leads to being able to see him also in our brothers and it opens our hearts to go out to meet every poverty."
In this light, Cardinal Re presented the Eucharist as light for service to the common good and the contribution that Christians are called to make to social and political life.
He expressed hopes that the Eucharistic Congress could be an "occasion to find in Christ the strength that changes life and society."
The Eucharist is "the great engine of Christian life: it is encouragement to remake the Christian fabric of society and to educate to the 'good life of the Gospel'; it is the point of departure for the hoped for New Evangelization, capable of infusing behavior, culture and the whole of life with evangelical contents," he said.
At Monday's Mass, Cardinal Re reflected on the miraculous multiplication of loaves reported in the Gospel.
To perform this miracle, he noted, Christ wished to use the loaves and fishes of a boy.
Hence, the cardinal explained, the "miracle occurred because there was someone who put at [Christ's] disposal the little he had; the miracle was possible because there was sharing and solidarity."
"These few loaves and fishes were a small thing before a hungry crowd, but they represented the symbol of fraternal charity and of solidarity," the Pope's representative stated. "Today, the word solidarity is often used as a catch word, an oft-quoted term, but, unfortunately, it is not put into practice much.
"The problems of poverty, underdevelopment and famine in the world will never be resolved if there isn't truly a sense of solidarity."
At the same time, he reflected, the Gospel account explains to us that "the hunger of the crowd surrounding Jesus is a sign and symbol of another hunger that is in the human heart. Every man and every woman is hungry, beyond this hunger for bread -- hungry also for truth, justice, liberty, love and solidarity."
"The human heart is often agitated and tormented by the desire and the need for those values of which Christ was the herald and guarantor," he said. "There is a void in the human heart that only God can fill. In many persons there is a worrying void of certainties and values. There is a spiritual hunger often not recognized."
"Also in this world of ours, distracted and busy, perhaps there are not a few persons who, unwittingly, are seeking God, because they feel the need for something more than the material goods they possess and the success they attained in their profession," Cardinal Re stated. And this Eucharistic Congress is to remind people precisely that "in addition to material bread, which is necessary to live, there is another bread that the human heart needs; a bread that comes from heaven, a bread that is Christ himself, who gives himself to us."