VATICAN CITY, APRIL 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging Catholics to enter into the mystery of the Eucharist, to experience God’s love and to learn how to love others by fixing their gaze on Christ.
The Pope said this in the homily of today’s Holy Thursday Mass, in which he reflected on the liturgy and the narrative of the institution of the Eucharist.
He exhorted his listeners to “give great inner attention to the mystery of this day, to the words in which it is expressed,” to listen in a new way to the institution narrative, “on the basis of Scripture and in contemplation of the Lord himself.”
This narrative, he explained, is a prayer, and “only in the course of the prayer is the priestly act of consecration accomplished, which becomes transformation, transubstantiation of our gifts of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.”
The Pontiff affirmed that “the offering that we have placed in God’s hands returns from him blessed and transformed.”
Gaze upon Christ
The Holy Father noted that in this liturgy, “The praying Church gazes upon the hands and eyes of the Lord.”
He continued: “It is as if she wants to observe him, to perceive the form of his praying and acting in that remarkable hour, she wants to encounter the figure of Jesus even, as it were, through the senses. […]
“Let us look at those hands with which he healed men and women; the hands with which he blessed babies; the hands that he laid upon men; the hands that were nailed to the Cross and that forever bear the stigmata as signs of his readiness to die for love.”
“The Lord teaches us to raise our eyes,” said Benedict XVI, “and especially our hearts.”
He added, “He teaches us to fix our gaze upwards, detaching it from the things of this world, to direct ourselves in prayer towards God and thus to raise ourselves.”
The Pope exhorted his listeners to pray “that no evil will enter through our eyes, falsifying and tainting our very being.” Pray, he said, “for eyes that see whatever is true, radiant and good; so that they become capable of seeing God’s presence in the world.”
“Let us pray that we will look upon the world with eyes of love,” he added, “with the eyes of Jesus, recognizing our brothers and sisters who need our help, who are awaiting our word and our action.”
The act of breaking the bread “is the act of the father of the family who looks after his children and gives them what they need for life,” the Pontiff affirmed.
He continued: “Dividing, sharing, brings about unity. Through sharing, communion is created. In the broken bread, the Lord distributes himself.
“The gesture of breaking also alludes mysteriously to his death, to the love that extends even to death.”
The Holy Father explained that when “Jesus transforms the bread, he no longer gives earthly bread, but communion with himself.”
He added: “This transformation, though, seeks to be the start of the transformation of the world — into a world of resurrection, a world of God.
“Yes, it is about transformation — of the new man and the new world that find their origin in the bread that is consecrated, transformed, transubstantiated.”
Benedict XVI noted that “in Jesus’ act of breaking the bread, the love that is shared has attained its most radical form: Jesus allows himself to be broken as living bread.”
Thus, the Eucharist “can never be just a liturgical action,” he said, but must become “love in daily life.”
“In Christian worship, the two things become one — experiencing the Lord’s love in the act of worship and fostering love for one’s neighbor,” he affirmed.
The Lord prepares a banquet for us, said the Pope, “in the midst of the threats of this world, and he gives us the glorious chalice — the chalice of great joy, of the true feast, for which we all long — the chalice filled with the wine of his love.”
He affirmed: “The blood of Jesus is his love, in which divine life and human life have become one. Let us pray to the Lord, that we may come to understand ever more deeply the greatness of this mystery.”
Upon concluding, the Pontiff prayed: “Lord, today you give us your life, you give us yourself. Enter deeply within us with your love.”
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Full text: http://www.zenit.org/article-25623?l=english