Skip to main content


Benedict XVI's Corpus Christi Homily

5/31/2005 - 6:00 AM PST

Advertisment

"Jesus Goes Before Us to the Father"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered last Thursday during the Mass on the solemnity of Corpus Christ, held in the square of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Afterward the Pope presided over the Eucharistic procession to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

* * *

On the feast of Corpus Christi, the Church relives the mystery of Holy Thursday in the light of the resurrection. On Holy Thursday, a Eucharistic procession is also held, with which the Church recalls Jesus' departure from the Cenacle for the Mount of Olives. In Israel, Passover was celebrated at home, in the intimacy of the family, recalling the first Passover in Egypt, the night that the blood of the paschal lamb, sprinkled on the lintels and doorposts of homes, protected against the executioner. On that night, Jesus went out and handed himself over to the traitor, the executioner and, in this way, he triumphed over night and the darkness of evil. Only thus was the gift of the Eucharist, instituted in the Cenacle, brought to fulfillment. Jesus really gives up his body and blood. Crossing over the threshold of death, he becomes the living Bread, authentic manna, inexhaustible nourishment for ever. His flesh becomes the Bread of life.

During the Holy Thursday procession, the Church accompanies Jesus to the Mount of Olives. The praying Church feels the intense desire to watch with Jesus; not to leave him alone in the night of the world, in the night of betrayal, in the night of the indifference of many. On the feast of Corpus Christi, we resume this procession, but with the joy of the resurrection. The Lord has risen and goes before us. In the accounts of the resurrection there is a common and essential feature. The angels say: The Lord "is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him" (Matthew 28:7). Reflecting on this with greater attention, we can say that this "going before" of Jesus implies a double direction. The first is, as we have heard, Galilee. In Israel, Galilee was considered the gate to the pagan world. And, in fact, precisely in Galilee, on top of the mountain, the disciples saw Jesus, the Lord, who said to them: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19).

The other direction in which the Risen One goes before us appears in the Gospel of St. John, in Jesus' words to Magdalene: "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father" (John 20:17). Jesus goes before us to the Father, he ascends to God in the highest and invites us to follow him. These two directions of the way of the Risen One are not in contradiction, but together indicate the way to follow Christ. The real end of our journeying is communion with God, God himself is the house of many rooms (cf. John 14:2 and following). But we can only ascend to this room by walking "to Galilee," walking on the roads of the world, taking the Gospel to all nations, taking the gift of his love to the men of all times. Because of this, the apostles journeying extended "to the end of the earth" (cf. Acts 1:6 and following); this is how Sts. Peter and Paul reached Rome, the city that was then the center of the known world, the genuine "caput mundi."

The Holy Thursday procession accompanies Jesus in his loneliness to the "via crucis." The Corpus Christi procession, on the contrary, responds symbolically to the mandate of the Risen One: I go before you to Galilee. Go to the end of the earth, take the Gospel to the world. For faith, the Eucharist is certainly the mystery of intimacy. The Lord instituted the Sacrament in the Cenacle, surrounded by his new family, by the Twelve Apostles, a prefiguration and anticipation of the Church of all times. Because of this, in the liturgy of the early Church, the distribution of Holy Communion was introduced with the words "Sancta sanctis," the holy gift is destined for those who have remained saints. This was the response to the warning addressed by St. Paul to the Corinthians: "Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself" (1 Corinthians 11:28).

However, from this intimacy, which is an extremely personal gift from the Lord, the force of the sacrament of the Eucharist goes beyond the walls of our churches. In this sacrament, the Lord is always coming to the world. This universal aspect of the Eucharistic presence is shown in the procession of our feast. We take Christ, present in the figure of bread, through the streets of our city. We entrust these streets, these homes, our daily life, to his goodness. May our streets be Jesus' streets! May our homes be homes for him and with him! May his presence penetrate our everyday life. With this gesture, we place before his eyes the sufferings of the sick, the ...

1 | 2  Next Page

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment


Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 15:12-20
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 17:1, 6-7, 8, 15
[Prayer Of David] Listen, Yahweh, to an upright cause, pay ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:1-3
Now it happened that after this he made his way through towns ... Read More

Saint of the Day

September 19 Saint of the Day

St. Januarius
September 19: St. Januarius was born in Italy and was bishop of Benevento ... Read More