By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis celebrated the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in the Roman sea-side suburb of Ostia on Sunday, becoming the first Pope since 1981 to lead the Eucharistic procession in a location other than the now-traditional tract from St. John Lateran to St. Mary Major.
It comes as part of his visits to the parish communities of the Diocese of Rome.
Overcome silent collusion
In his homily at Mass in Ostia’s St. Monica parish, Pope Francis reflected on how the Lord prepares a place and a meal for his disciples in the Eucharist. He also invited the port city’s residents to loosen “the knots that keep us bound to the moorings of fear and depression.”
“Jesus wants the walls of indifference and silent collusion to be breached, iron bars of oppression and arrogance torn asunder, and paths cleared for justice, civility and legality,” he said.
The Pope said the city’s beachfront “speaks to us of how beautiful it is to open our hearts and to set out in new directions in life.” The Eucharist, he said, is an invitation to be “carried along by the wave of Jesus” and “to cast into the deep.”
Pope Francis also spoke about the role “preparedness” plays in the Sunday Gospel (Mk 14:12-16, 22-26).
He said Jesus, both at the Last Supper and after the Resurrection, continually reminds the disciples to be prepared. More importantly, he said, Jesus tells them he is preparing a place and a meal for them.
The “large and furnished room” of the Gospel, he said, is “our spacious and vast home here below, the Church, where there is, and must be, room for everyone.” The Pope said Jesus has also reserved “a place for us on high, in heaven, so that we can be with him and with one another for ever.”
Eucharist: both meal and place
Pope Francis said the meal Jesus prepares is “the Bread in which he gives himself”. Both the place and the meal, he said, are Jesus’ gifts for us in the Eucharist.
“Jesus prepares a place for us here below, because the Eucharist is the beating heart of the Church. It gives her birth and rebirth; it gathers her together and gives her strength. But the Eucharist also prepares for us a place on high, in eternity, for it is the Bread of heaven.”
The Holy Father said this Bread “savors of eternity” and “sates our greatest expectations and feeds our final dreams.”
The Bread of heaven, he said, is “the pledge of eternal life”, a “concrete anticipation of what awaits us there.”