The Eucharist is not just a weekly way of celebrating our faith, but should radically affect our relationship with others, especially with those most in need. That was the message Pope Francis shared with the crowds gathered in St Peter’s square for his general audience on Wednesday.
Philippa Hitchen takes a closer look at what the Pope had to say:
How do we experience the Eucharist, Pope Francis asked the crowds gathered in a sunny St Peter’s Square on Wednesday? Does it just make us feel good about ourselves or is it something more than that? He suggested three ways of discovering how the Eucharist can make a real difference in our lives and in our relationships with those around us.
The first clue, Pope Francis said, is the way we look and behave towards people from all walks of life – young and old, poor and affluent, neighbours and visitors. Just as Christ loved to be with others and gave himself to all on the Cross, so we are called to give ourselves generously to our brothers and sisters, sharing in their joys and sorrows.
Does the Eucharist lead us towards the poor, the sick, the marginalized, recognizing the face of God in them, the Pope asked? Mentioning especially those affected by the flooding here in Rome or those struggling with unemployment, he said are we indifferent, or are we concerned and willing to help those facing such problems?
Secondly, Pope Francis said, the Eucharist gives us the grace to feel forgiven and to be ready to forgive others. We go to Mass, not because we are worthy or want to appear better than others, but because we know that we always need God’s love and mercy that comes to us through the Body and Blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. When we confess our sins, he said, it is not a mere formality but a recognition that we are all sinners, in need of God’s grace and reconciliation in our hearts.
Thirdly, Pope Francis said, the Eucharist affects the life of our Christian communities, reminding us that it is from the Eucharist that the Church receives her identity and mission. It is not something we do simply to commemorate what Jesus did for us. Rather it is something that Christ does for us, filling us with grace and nourishing us with His own life. Let us live the Eucharist, the Pope concluded, in a spirit of faith and prayer, a spirit of forgiveness, joy and concern for all our brothers and sisters in need.
Please find below the English summary of Pope Francis' words at his general audience on Wednesday February 12th 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Continuing our catechesis on the Sacraments of Initiation, I wish to reflect on how we live the Eucharist in our daily lives, as a Church and individual Christians. First, the Eucharist affects the way we see others. In his life, Christ manifested his love by being with people, and by sharing their desires and problems. So too the Eucharist brings us together with others – young and old, poor and affluent, neighbours and visitors. The Eucharist calls us to see all of them as our brothers and sisters, and to see in them the face of Christ.
Second, in the Eucharist we experience the forgiveness of God and the call to forgive. We celebrate the Eucharist not because we are worthy, but because we recognize our need for God’s mercy, incarnate in Jesus Christ. In the Eucharist, we renew the gift of the Body and Blood of Christ for the remission of sins, and our hearts are enlarged to receive and show mercy.
Third, in the Eucharistic celebration, we are nourished as the Christian community by Christ’s Word and Life. It is from the Eucharist that the Church receives continually her identity and mission. It is in our celebration that Christ fills us with his grace, so that our lives may be consonant with our worship of God in the Liturgy. Let us live the Eucharist in a spirit of faith and prayer, with the certainty that the Lord will bring to fulfillment all that he has promised.
Source: The Vatican News