“At every Mass we feed on the Bread of life and the Word that saves: let us live what we celebrate! In this way, like Don Tonino, we will be sources of hope, joy and peace.”
Pope Francis stressed this during his Mass today in Molfetto, during his visit there and to another southern Italian town of Alessano, also in Puglia, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of the popular Italian bishop Don Tonino Bello, remembered for his helping the poor, disadvantaged, and promoting peace. In 2007, the cause for beatification of Don Tonino, late bishop of Molfetta-Ruvo-Giovinazzo-Terlizzi, was opened.
At around 11 a.m., Pope Francis’ helicopter, which had departed from Alessano, landed in the Piazza Cala Sant’Andrea, next to the Cathedral. The Pope transferred by car to the port of Molfetta, where he greeted the faithful at the docks, arriving at the stage set up for the Eucharistic celebration. In the port of Molfetta, the Holy Father presided over Mass.
The readings presented two elements central to the Christian life: the Bread and the Word.
Bread, the Pope stressed, is the essential food for living and Jesus in the Gospel offers Himself to us as the Bread of life, as if to tell us: “You can not do without me.”
Asking what does it mean?, the Pope observed that for our life, it is essential to enter into a vital, personal relationship with Him.
The Eucharist: The Most Intimate Concrete Communion of Love
“The Eucharist is this,” Francis highlighted, “not a beautiful rite, but the most intimate, most concrete, most surprising communion that can be imagined with God: a communion of love so real that it takes the form of eating. Christian life starts every time from here, from this table, where God satisfies us with love.”
“Without Him, Bread of life,” Pope Francis said, “every effort in the Church is in vain.” Francis reminded that Don Tonino Bello had said: “Works of charity are not enough, if the charity of works is lacking. If the love from which the works leave is lacking, if the source is lacking, if the starting point that is the Eucharist is lacking, any pastoral commitment is only a stirring of things.”
Jesus in the Gospel, the Jesuit Pontiff stressed, adds: “He who eats me will live for me.” Francis stressed that this involves stopping living for himself, for his own success, to have something or to become someone, but he lives for Jesus and like Jesus, that is for others.
The ‘Trademark’ of a Christian
‘Living for,’ the Pope said, is the mark of those who eat this Bread, “the ‘trademark’ of the Christian. Living for. It could be displayed as a warning outside any church: ‘After Mass we no longer live for ourselves but for others.’”
“It would be good if, in this diocese of Don Tonino Bello,” Francis suggested, “there were this notice on the door of the Churches, to be read by everyone: “After Mass we no longer live for ourselves but for others”. Don Tonino lived like this.: among you was a Bishop-servant, a Pastor who became a people, who in front of the Tabernacle learned to let himself be consumed by the people.”
Pope Francis recalled that Don Tonino Bello dreamed of a Church “hungry for Jesus and intolerant of all worldliness.”
“We can ask ourselves: is this Sacrament realized in me? More concretely: Do I just like being served at the table by the Lord, or do I get up to serve like the Lord? Do I give in life what I receive at Mass? And as a Church we could ask ourselves: after so many Communions, have we become people of communion?”
The Holy Father reminded that the Bread of life, the broken Bread, is also Bread of peace.
Don Tonino claimed that “peace does not come when one takes only his bread and goes to eat it on his own. […] Peace is something more: it is conviviality.” We who share this Bread of unity and peace, the Pope said, are called to love every face, to mend every tear; to be, always and everywhere, builders of peace.
Together with Bread, Francis said there is the Word.
Many, the Pope noted, did not understand that the Word of Jesus is to walk in life, not to sit and talk about what is good and what is not. Don Tonino, precisely at Easter, wished to welcome this new life, finally passing from words to deeds.
Therefore, the Pope said, Don Tonino gave a heartfelt exhortation to those who did not have the courage to change: “The specialists of perplexity. The accounting pedants of the pros and cons. Calculators, who exercise the maximum caution before moving” . Jesus is not answered according to the calculations and conveniences of the moment; He is answered with the “yes” of all our life. He does not seek our reflections, but our conversion. He points at the heart.”
“It is the same Word of God to suggest it. ‘Go, do not stay closed in your reassuring spaces, take a risk!. Risk!”
Christian life, the Pope stressed, must be invested for Jesus and spent for others.
After Meeting Risen One, We Cannot Postpone Being Bearers of Christian Hope
“After having met the Risen One we can not wait, we can not postpone it; we must go, go out, despite all the problems and uncertainties.”
“We are all called, in any situation we find ourselves,” the Pope continued, “to be bearers of Easter hope, “Cyrenians of joy,” as Don Tonino said; servants of the world, but resurrected, not employed. Without ever bothering us, without ever resigning ourselves. It is nice to be “couriers of hope”, simple and joyful distributors of the Paschal alleluia.”
The Word of God frees, raises, and keeps us going, humble and courageous at the same time, the Pope noted, stressing: “It does not make us established protagonists and champions of our own skill, no, but genuine witnesses of Jesus, Who died and rose again, in the world.”
Pope Francis concluded, saying: “Dear brothers and sisters, at every Mass we feed on the Bread of life and the Word that saves: let us live what we celebrate! In this way, like Don Tonino, we will be sources of hope, joy and peace.”
After the Mass, Pope Francis departed in his helicopter from Molfetta and returned to Rome.
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