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Angelus Address: On Jesus Christ, 'The Living Bread Come Down from Heaven'

‘Unless You Eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and Drink His Blood, You Have No Life in You’

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave August 19, 2018, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Vatican Police estimated the crowd at 20,000.
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Before the Angelus:
 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
This Sunday’s evangelical passage (Cf. John 6:51-58) introduces us in the second part of Jesus’ address in the synagogue of Capernaum, after having fed a large crowd with five loaves and two fish — the multiplication of the loaves. He presents Himself as “the living bread come down from Heaven”; the bread that gives eternal life, and He adds, “The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (v. 51). This passage is decisive and, in fact, provokes the reaction of the listeners, who begin to argue among themselves: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (v. 52). When the sign of shared bread leads to its true meaning, namely, the gift of Himself to the point of sacrifice, incomprehension emerges, in fact, the rejection emerges of Him who shortly before they wished to carry in triumph.
Let us recall that Jesus had to hide Himself because they wanted to make Him King. Jesus continues: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (v. 53). Here together with the flesh, the blood also appears. Flesh and blood in biblical language express concrete humanity. The people and the disciples themselves intuit that Jesus is inviting them to enter into communion with Him, to “eat” Him, His humanity, to share with Him the gift of life for the world — anything other than triumphs and mirages of success! It is, in fact, Jesus’ sacrifice who gives Himself for us.
This bread of life, Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, is given to us freely at the table of the Eucharist. Around the altar, we find that which feeds us and quenches us spiritually today and for eternity. Every time we take part in Holy Mass, we anticipate, in a certain sense, Heaven on earth, because from the Eucharistic food, the Body and Blood of Jesus, we learn what eternal life is. It’s to live for the Lord: “He who eats Me will live because of Me” (v. 57), says the Lord.
The Eucharist molds us so that we don’t live only for ourselves but for the Lord and for brothers. Happiness and eternal life depend on our capacity to make fruitful the evangelical love we receive in the Eucharist.
As at that time, Jesus repeats to each one of us also today: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (v. 53). Brothers and sisters, it’s not about material food, but about a living and vivifying bread, which communicates the life itself of God. When we go to Communion we receive the very life of God. To have this life it’s necessary to be nourished by the Gospel and by the love of brothers. In face of Jesus’ invitation to nourish ourselves of his Body and his Blood, we can perceive the necessity to dispute and resist, as the listeners did of whom today’s Gospel spoke. This happens when it’s an effort for us to model our existence on that of Jesus, to act according to His criteria and not according to the world’s criteria. By nourishing ourselves with this food, we can enter into full harmony with Christ, with His sentiments and His behavior. It is so important to go to Mass and to Communion because to receive Communion is to receive the living Christ, who transforms us within and prepares us for Heaven.
May the Virgin Mary support us in our resolution to commune with Jesus Christ, nourishing ourselves of His Eucharist, to become in turn broken bread for our brothers.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
After the Angelus:
 Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Over the last days, intense rains — which have caused flooding and landslides, with heavy losses of human lives, numerous dispersed and displaced, and great damage to crops and homes –, have harshly tried the inhabitants of Kerala (India). May these brothers of ours not lack our solidarity and the concrete support of the International Community. I am close to the Church in Kerala, which is in the front line to bring help to the population. All of us are also close to the Church in Kerala and we pray together for all those who lost their lives and for people tried by this great calamity.
We pray together in silence: Hail Mary . . .
A warm greeting goes to all of you, Italian pilgrims and those from different countries. In particular, I greet the young people of Ukraine and I encourage them to be agents of peace and reconciliation. I greet the new Seminarians with the Superiors of Rome’s North American College, as well as the adolescents and young people of the diocese of Verona.
I wish you all a happy Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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Virginia Forrester

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