By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Mass at the weekly General Audience, reflecting on the rite of Holy Communion, which is the culmination of the Liturgy.
He recalled Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John (6:54-55): “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”
Mass renews Lord’s supper
The Holy Father said Jesus’ gift of himself at the Last Supper is renewed during each Mass in the offering of his body and blood under the signs of bread and wine.
This salvific action, he said, “continues still today through the ministry of the priest and the deacon”.
After the breaking of the bread, Pope Francis said, the priest invites the faithful to acknowledge that the Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world.
“This invitation,” he said, “calls us to taste intimate union with God, who is the source of joy and holiness.” It also pushes us to examine our conscience in the light of faith, he said.
He said that acknowledging our sins helps us accept the “medicine” of the Blood of Christ, which unites us ever closer to him, according to St. Ambrose.
Lives transformed in Eucharist
Pope Francis then reflected on the moment the faithful receive the Eucharist.
Our response of “Amen” to the words “The Body of Christ”, he said, signifies our openness to the transformative power of God’s grace.
“As we process to receive Communion, in reality it is Christ who comes to meet us and assimilate us to himself. To receive the Eucharist means letting oneself be transformed into that which we receive,” he said.
Nourished by the bread of life, the Pope said, we become a “living Eucharist”; that is, “we become what we receive.”
Pope Francis said we pray silently after Communion in order “to watch over in our heart the gift we have received”.
This personal prayer, he concluded, is gathered up in the final prayer of the Mass. “In it,” he said, “the priest thanks God for having made us participants in this holy banquet”.