CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI summarized the Christian faith in two words, “Jesus, love,” when commenting on the mystery of the Eucharist.
The Pope highlighted the bond between this sacrament and the love of God and of one’s neighbor when he addressed the thousands of people gathered today in the courtyard of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo to pray the midday Angelus.
“Love — ‘agape’ in Greek, ‘caritas’ in Latin — does not mean first of all a charitable act or sentiment, but the spiritual gift, the love of God that the Holy Spirit infuses in the human heart and that leads in turn to giving oneself to God himself and to one’s neighbor,” the Holy Father said.
His meditation came in the final weeks of the Year of the Eucharist, an event that will conclude next month with the Synod of Bishops, to be held in Rome.
“The whole of Jesus’ earthly existence, from his conception until his death on the cross, was an act of love, to the point that we can summarize our faith in these words: ‘Jesus, caritas’ — Jesus, love,” said Benedict XVI.
Referring to the Last Supper, the Holy Father explained that “[i]n the Eucharist, the Lord gives himself to us with his body, with his soul and with his divinity, and we become one with him and among ourselves.”
Forms of service
In the face of this central mystery of the Catholic faith, the Bishop of Rome exhorted the faithful to respond to Jesus’ “love” in a concrete way, “expressed in a genuine conversion to love, in forgiveness, in reciprocal acceptance and in attention to the needs of all.”
“Many and varied are the forms of service that we can offer our neighbor in everyday life, if we pay a little attention,” the Pope said. “The Eucharist becomes in this way the source of the spiritual energy that renews our life every day and, in this way, renews the love of Christ to the world.”
To make his words more concrete, the Holy Father gave the example of the saints, “who drew from the Eucharist the strength of an operative and often heroic charity.”
The Pope mentioned St. Vincent de Paul in particular, who died in 1660, and was the founder of the Congregation of the Mission and of the Daughters of Charity, whose liturgical memorial will be celebrated Tuesday.
Benedict XVI recalled the saint’s phrase: “‘What joy to serve the person of Jesus in his poor members!’, and he did so with his life.”
He then mentioned Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, “who in the poorest of the poor loved Jesus, received and contemplated every day in the consecrated Host.”
The Holy Father added: “Divine charity transformed the heart of the Virgin Mary before and more than that of all the saints,” as was manifested, for example, in her visit to her cousin Elizabeth.
“Let us pray,” he said, “so that every Christian, nourished by the Body and Blood of the Lord, will grow ever more in the love of God and in the generous service of his brothers.”