Corpus Domini 2021: Homily of Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa

Published: June 02 Wed, 2021

Corpus Domini 2021: Homily of Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa Available in the following languages:

June 3, 2021

Corpus Domini, year B

Holy Sepulcher

Reverend Excellence,

Dear brothers in the priesthood

Dear everyone,

Peace be with you!

The Church of Jerusalem is in feast today, for this beautiful and traditional solemnity.

Our Church is in feast because, as we heard from Bishop Marcuzzo, we celebrate many important anniversaries of priesthood.

Today's liturgy helps us to understand what we celebrate and what our brothers who are celebrating their anniversary have proclaimed for generations.

On today's solemnity we read the same Gospel that the Church proclaims on the evening of Holy Thursday, in memory of the last supper, which brings us back to the days of the Passion: Jesus offers his body and his blood, that is His life; He offers it in an extreme gesture of love, as a sign of covenant, as food for salvation, as a principle of new life for everyone. Read today, after the Ascension and Pentecost, in the light of the fullness of the paschal mystery, this Gospel takes on a new light and meaning, and is somehow expanded to infinity.

In our passage, Jesus devotes much attention to the preparations (Mk 14, 12-16): they are accurate. In some ways it is Jesus Himself who prepares this dinner, which makes it possible. It seems initially that the disciples are those who take the initiative: "Where do you want us to go and prepare ...?" (Mk 14:12). But it is not so: they discover that there is already a prepared room, a room that someone has already furnished and arranged (Mk 14:15), and that they are only responsible for bringing the necessary for dinner: lamb, bitter herbs, bread and wine to remember Israel's exit from Egypt.

What they will bring, it will be taken in the hands of the Lord, and it will become Eucharist.

Furthermore, the disciples ask Jesus where to prepare so that He may eat Easter (Mk 14:12). In reality, even this will not happen according to their expectations, because it will not be He who eats the Passover, but He will offer Himself in food, so that the disciples can eat a food of eternal life, a completely new food.

In short, the disciples are called simply to welcome the Eucharist as the fulfillment of a gift that has always been prepared.

But today's Gospel also tells us that the Eucharist is also a gift we have to be prepared for. It's so big, that it takes time and preparation to be understood. It needs a journey that little by little makes us realize the greatness of this mystery.

Even in our days, in which the immediate and the "here and now" are apparently a social conquest, the Eucharist remains a mystery that needs time, acceptance and understanding.

In the first reading we find an expression that has become a spiritual indication for generations of believers: "we will perform it and we will listen to it" (Ex 24, 7). Logically, it should be the other way around. We will listen to it, that is, we will understand it, and then, we will do it. The passage says the opposite: we will perform it, we will do it and then, doing it, little by little, we will understand it. We are in the capital moment of the Old Testament history, the Covenant on Mount Sinai. People are not able to understand what is really happening, but they trust and entrust themselves. It is as if they were saying: "At this moment we do not understand everything, but we trust you, and we will do what you say, trusting that, by doing so, we will understand more and more" (Lk 5,5: on your word I will throw the nets ... ").

I believe it was that this was experience of each of us and especially of our brothers in feast. I am sure that by daily celebrating the mystery of the Eucharist, that incommensurable mystery has penetrated little by little in the life of each of them in an ever deeper, more intense and rich way and has shaped their way of thinking, living and praying: from the first masses celebrated with devoted scrupulosity, passing through the weariness of repetitiveness, perhaps, to the depth of the mystery that one can only contemplate and which nevertheless becomes real nourishment of the life of faith and not only a devotion. Their understanding of the Eucharist, today, after years of experience, is certainly different. Yes, only after years of celebration, only after having experienced the initial joy, fatigue and solitude but also the consolation of the ministry, one can better “understand and listen” with greater awareness to the greatness of the mystery we celebrate: in the Eucharist, love is real food.

The love that we celebrate in the mystery, little by little has also become love that we celebrate in life, a love that has acquired during the time the flavor of the concrete experience of life, a bread that together with wheat and water, has also acquired the taste of sweat and tears, but that for this reason it becomes more "real", because it unites the life to the mystery we celebrate and thus the Eucharist becomes true, real offering of life and not just a ritual.

The Eucharist is not only an occasional gesture, a moment in the life of Jesus and ours: it is rather the style, the habitual way of life. A way of being in life by taking it in your hands, as it is, to offer it as a gift, to donate it.

Let's return to that initial verse of the Gospel of Mark, to the first words of Jesus, those for whom the kingdom of God it is near (Mark 1.15). Because today we understand even better what these words mean and how the kingdom of God has become close: it is near, it is present in the Church that lives the Eucharist; it is present when the Church lives of the Eucharist, that is, if she allows it to be permeated to the point that the Eucharist becomes a style of life, a way of loving and serving, of giving and giving back.

The fidelity of these our jubilates exhorts us to follow their example, to celebrate in the life the gift of love received and given. I ask this for myself, I ask this for all our priests, so that they in turn could truly become bread broken for the life of the world. May the mystery that we celebrate on the altar truly become a lifestyle for all of us, that is a continuous giving of oneself, with gratuitousness and liberty. Let us pray in particular for the priests who at this moment are struggling to see and live all this, and are living “their night”, so that they can rediscover the light and the real life in union with Christ.

Finally, I ask this for our Church and for our Land, divided and wounded by hatred and rancor. We continuously experience, daily, in our ordinary life the fruits of hatred and the power of the divider. And in these days of war in an even more accentuated and unexpected way. In the face of such hatred and resentment, may the Eucharist be for us the source of the witness of love and encounter, despite everything. Make our Church be capable of building and looking forward with confidence. We are sure, in fact, that in that broken bread, on the altar and in life, the salvation of the world truly subsists and that nothing can extinguish that love that has conquered the world, not even now and not even here, in our Land.

We renew today for them and for all of us, our commitment to "perform and understand", every day, the mystery of Love, which has always preceded us and that always awaits us. Amen.

+Pierbattista