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Pope at Corpus Christi Mass: Eucharist heals our fragile memory

Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, and reflects on how the Eucharist heals our memory and makes us bearers of joy.

By Devin Watkins

On Sunday, the feast of Corpus Christi, or the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Pope Francis presided over the Eucharist at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Around 50 people were present for the Mass, which was followed by the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.

Memory makes us part of larger story

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the importance of remembering God’s many gifts.

“Without memory, we uproot ourselves from the soil that nourishes us and allow ourselves to be carried away like leaves in the wind.”

The Pope said the act of remembering helps us rebuild our strongest connections and makes us feel part of a larger story. “Memory is not something private; it is the path that unites us to God and to others,” he said.

The Bible, he added, recounts how our relationship with the Lord is transmitted from generation to generation by word of mouth.

Memorial of His love

But, what happens, asked Pope Francis, when the chain of transmission of memories is broken?

God, he replied, knows how short our memories can be. Because of this “He left us a memorial,” which goes far beyond words or signs.

“He gave us Food, for it is not easy to forget something we have actually tasted. He left us Bread in which He is truly present, alive and true, with all the flavour of His love.”

The Eucharist, he said, is no mere memory, it is a fact. “In Mass the death and resurrection of Jesus are set before us.”

Orphaned memory

Pope Francis went on to highlight three aspects of our weakened memory that the Eucharist heals.

Most importantly, he said, the celebration of the Lord’s Body and Blood heals our “orphaned memory.”

“Many people have memories marked by a lack of affection and bitter disappointments caused by those who should have given them love and instead orphaned their hearts.”

God, however, heals us by infusing our memory with a love that is greater than our pain.

“The Eucharist brings us the Father’s faithful love, which heals our sense of being orphans. It fills our hearts with the consoling love of the Holy Spirit.”

Negative memory

The Eucharist, said Pope Francis, also heals our “negative memory” which focuses solely on our problems and errors.

Jesus, the Pope said, comes to tell us instead that we are precious in His eyes and worthy of sharing a table with Him. “And not only because He is generous, but because He is truly in love with us. He sees and loves the beauty and goodness that we are.”

Pope Francis said the Eucharist immunizes us against sadness because it “contains the antibodies to our negative memory.”

We are thus transformed into God-bearers: "bearers of joy.”

Closed memory

Lastly, the Eucharist heals our “closed memory”.

Wounds inflicted upon our memory make us fearful and suspicious of others, said the Pope. As a result, we arrogantly distance ourselves from others, in the false hope that we will be able to control any situation.

“Yet that is indeed an illusion, for only love can heal fear at its root and free us from the self-centredness that imprisons us.”

Jesus, Pope Francis said, comes to us in the “disarming fragility of the Host”. He crushes the shell of our self-centeredness, and breaks down our interior walls and paralysis of heart.

Offering Himself in the simplicity of bread, Jesus invites us to not waste our lives on useless things.

“The Eucharist satisfies our hunger for material things and kindles our desire to serve.”

Chain of solidarity

Pope Francis concluded his homily with a reminder that the Eucharist makes us all links in chain of solidarity.

“In the Eucharist, Jesus draws close to us: let us not turn away from those around us!”

14 June 2020, 10:25