On the Solemnity of Corpus Domini, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in the square of St. John Lateran, the cathedral basilica of Rome. He commented in his homily that human beings not only suffer from physical hunger, but hunger also for life, love and eternity, for the manna that God gave to the people of Israel in the desert and which the Eucharist symbolizes.
Referring to Moses’ phrase: “The Lord your God … fed you with manna which you did not know”, Francis spoke about the history of the chosen people, whom God led out of Egypt and their condition of slaves to guide them to the promised land. However, once established there, the Israelites enjoyed prosperity and were in danger of forgetting their past of famine and despair. Moses urged them to return to the essentials, to the experience of total reliance on God, when their survival was entirely entrusted to His hands”.
“As well as physical hunger, man also suffers from another form of hunger that cannot be sated with ordinary food. It is a hunger for life, a hunger for love, a hunger for eternity. Manna is the sign … that prefigured the food that satisfies this profound hunger present in man. Jesus gives us this nourishment – or rather, He Himself is the living bread that gives life to the world. His Body is the true food in the form of bread; His Blood is the true sustenance in the form of wine. It is not a simple form of nourishment to sate our bodies, like manna; the Body of Christ is the bread of the last times, able to give life, eternal life, because the substance of this bread is Love”.
The Eucharist communicates “God’s love for us: a love so great that it nourishes itself; it is a gratuitous love, always available to every person who hungers or who is in need of regeneration. To live the experience of faith means allowing oneself to be nourished by the Lord and to build our existence not on material goods, but on a reality that does not perish: the gifts of God, His Word and His Body”.
“If we look around ourselves”, continued the bishop of Rome, “we realize that many forms of sustenance are offered to us, that do not come from the Lord and seemingly offer more satisfaction. Some sate themselves with money, others with success and vanity, others with power and pride. But the food that truly nourishes and sates us is only that which comes from the Lord! The food that the Lord offers us is different from the others, and it may perhaps be less appetising than other delicacies the world offers us. We dream of other meals, like the Hebrews in the desert, who missed the meat and onions they ate in Egypt, but forgot that they ate those meals at the table of their slavery. In that moment of temptation, they retained the memories of that food, but it was a diseased memory, a selective memory”.
“The Father says to us: ‘I have fed you with manna which you did not know’. Let us restore our memory and learn to recognize the false victuals that delude and corrupt, because they are the fruit of selfishness, self-sufficiency and sin: poisoned foods. Soon, in the procession, we will follow Jesus, truly present in the Eucharist. The Host is our manna, through which the Lord gives Himself to us. And we turn to Him with trust: Jesus, defend us from the temptations of the worldly food that enslaves us; purify our memory, so that we may not be imprisoned by selfish and worldly selectivity, but become instead the living memory of Your presence throughout the history of Your people, a memory that becomes a ‘memorial’ of your gesture of redeeming love”.
Following the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father led the procession along Via Merulana up to the basilica of St. Mary Major, where he imparted his solemn blessing with the Most Holy Sacrament.