“Jesus, then, prepares for us and asks us to be prepared,” Pope Francis said on June 3, 2018, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. “Jesus prepares a place for us here below because the Eucharist is the beating heart of the Church.”
His comments came during a homily at the church of St. Monica in Ostia before he carried the Eucharist in a procession that drew thousands in the neighborhood both as participants and viewers.
In his homily, the Holy Father presented a theme of preparation. Jesus asked the disciples to prepare for the Last Supper. When He appears to them on the shore after the resurrection, he already has prepared bread a fish. And of course, the bread and wine were prepared at the Last Supper – and continue to be prepared at each Mass.
“In the consecrated host, together with a place, Jesus prepares for us a meal, food for our nourishment,” Francis explained. “In life, we constantly need to be fed: nourished not only with food but also with plans and affection, hopes and desires.”
“We hunger to be loved. But the most pleasing compliments, the finest gifts, and the most advanced technologies are not enough; they never completely satisfy us. The Eucharist is simple food, like bread, yet it is the only food that satisfies, for there is no greater love.”
The Pope reminded the congregation that like he asked the disciples, Jesus asks us to prepare. And that may require entering into uncomfortable places.
“Jesus does not prefer exclusive, selective places. He looks for places untouched by love, untouched by hope,” the Pope stressed. “Those uncomfortable places are where he wants to go and he asks us to prepare his way.”
The decision by Pope Francis to lead the procession in Ostia is a break with tradition.
After some 100 years without the Eucharistic Procession in Rome, Pope John Paul II had restored the Roman tradition in 1982. This will be the first year since then without it.
In the past for Corpus Christi, Pope Francis presided over the Eucharistic celebration for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in the courtyard of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. After the Pope would lead the traditional procession that took place to the nearby Basilica of Saint Mary Major, the Pontiff would impart the solemn Eucharistic Blessing.