Francis pope in the procession of Holy Sacrament (archive)


Pope at Corpus Christi: 'The Bread of Life Has Come Down to Us!'

Says Jesus Shed His Blood So We Would Be Freed, Cleansed

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So that we may be free from sins and cleansed, Jesus shed his blood, Pope Francis recalled at this evening’s Corpus Christi procession.

In his Corpus Christi homily Thursday evening in the courtyard of St. John Lateran, the Pope underscored, «Jesus shed his blood as a price and as cleansing, that we might be clean from all sins,» which therefore allows us to experience «the grace of a transformation.»

«We will remain always poor sinners, but the Blood of Christ will deliver us from our sins and give us back our dignity,» the Pontiff reflected. «Without our merit, with sincere humility, we can bring to their brothers the love of our Lord and Savior. We will be his eyes that go in search of Zacchaeus and of Magdalene; we will be His hand who helps the sick in body and spirit; we will be His loving heart in need of reconciliation and understanding.»

At the Last Supper, the Jesuit Pontiff recalled, Jesus gave his Body and his Blood, to leave us the memorial of his sacrifice of infinite love. With this «encouragement» full of grace, he noted, «the disciples have everything they need for their long journey through history, extending to all the kingdom of God.»

In Jesus’ sacrificing himself on the Cross, Francis pointed out, He gifted His disciples light and strength. Light and strength will be for them the gift that Jesus made of himself, sacrificing himself voluntarily on cross.

«This Bread of Life has come down to us! The Church has never-ending amazement before this reality,» he said, noting this amazement is one which leads to more contemplation, memory, and worship.

He called on those gathered to reflect on their lives and the times they are not obedient to God’s Word, don’t live in brotherhood, and compete against each other, rather than doing what is needed in terms of witnessing charity and offering hope.

The Eucharist, Francis noted, helps us, for it is «the bond of communion, the fulfillment of the Covenant, a living sign of the love of Christ who humbled Himself.» 

By participating in the Eucharist, he pointed out, «we are placed in a way that does not allow divisions.»

«Christ present in our midst, the signs of bread and wine, requires that the power of love exceeds every tear, and at the same time it becomes communion with the poor, support of the weak, fraternal attention to those who are struggling to support the weight of everyday life.»

The Argentine Pontiff called on Christians to leave aside «the idolatry of our time.» This, he cautioned, includes everything from appearances, consumption, the self being at the center of everything, to being competitive, arrogant and unwilling to admit you make mistakes.

«All this demeans us, making us Christians mediocre, lukewarm, [and] insipid,» he said.

The Eucharist, the Holy Father underscored, makes present «the alliance that sanctifies us, purifies us and unites us in communion with God.»

«Today, the feast of Corpus Christi, we have the joy not only to celebrate this mystery, but also to praise Him and sing in the streets of our city.»

After the Mass in the courtyard of St. John Lateran, tradition involves candle-carrying faithful taking part in the procession, thereby illuminating an otherwise dark Via Merulana, the arterial street leading from the archbasilica of St. John Lateran to the Marian Basilica of St. Mary Major. The festivities of the evening will still conclude in front of Saint Mary Major, with the Pope’s benediction with the Blessed Sacrament.

«The procession following the Mass,» the Holy Father explained, can express our gratitude for the way God has rescued us from our slavery, «by feeding us His love through the Sacrament of his Body and the Blood.»

Before concluding, the Pontiff prayed that as those gathered get ready to start this procession, «Let us feel in communion with our brothers and sisters who do not have the freedom to express their faith in the Lord Jesus. Let us feel united with them, sing with them, praise them, we love them. And we worship in our hearts with those brothers and sisters who have been asked to sacrifice their lives for fidelity to Christ: may their blood, together with that of the Lord, be a pledge of peace and reconciliation for the whole world.»


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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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