Jesus, present in the Eucharist, inspires compassion, sharing, pope says

VATICAN CITY – One cannot love and adore the Eucharist without compassion for the poor and marginalized, Pope Francis said at a mass concluding the Eucharistic Congress in Italy.

“Let us realize that the Eucharist is the prophecy of a new world, it is the presence of Jesus that invites us to devote ourselves to effective conversion” that includes the conversion from indifference to compassion, from waste to sharing, from selfishness to Love and from individualism to brotherhood, he said in his 25 September homily.

The Pope concelebrated Mass at an open-air stadium in the southern Italian city of Matera, which hosted the 27th Italian National Eucharistic Congress from September 22-25.

Rain, thunder and thunderstorms forced the Pope to travel from the Vatican by plane and car instead of by helicopter.

In his homily, the Pope reflected on the reading of today’s Gospel (Lk 16:19-31), in which Jesus tells the parable about the nameless rich man who “ate lavishly every day” and ignored the poor man Lazarus “who do it I’d happily eat my fill of the leftovers.”

When Lazarus died, “he was carried by angels into the bosom of Abraham,” but when the rich man died, according to the Gospel reading, he was “sent down to the underworld, where he was tormented.”

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Pope Francis said: “It is painful to see that this parable is still alive today with so many “injustices, inequalities, the unequal distribution of the earth’s resources, the abuse of the powerful against the weak, the indifference to the cry of the poor, the abyss we dig every day to create exclusion.”

All this, he said, “cannot leave us indifferent.”

The parable speaks of the abyss or great gulf that the rich man dug between him and Lazarus while they were alive, so “in eternal life remains that gulf,” the pope said.

The eternal goal is determined by mortal life, he said. “If we dig a chasm now,” separate from others, then “we are digging our own grave for later; If we erect walls against our brothers and sisters now, later we will be trapped in loneliness and death.”

The Eucharist offers a “constant challenge” to adore and adore God, not oneself, the pope said, and to put “him at the center” of everything.

“Only the Lord is God, and everything else is a gift of His love,” he said.

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“When we worship ourselves, we die, smothered in our tiny egos; when we worship the riches of this world, they take possession of us and enslave us; If we worship the god of appearances and are intoxicated with extravagance, sooner or later life will hit us with the bill,” said Pope Francis.

“Instead,” he said, “when we worship the Lord Jesus present in the Eucharist, we also get a new perspective on our lives: I am not the things I possess and the achievements I can achieve; The value of my life does not depend on how much I can show, nor does it diminish as I go through failures and setbacks.”

“Each of us is a child who is loved” and blessed by God “who wanted to clothe me with beauty and free me from all bondage,” he said. Those who worship God are free and not enslaved by anyone, he added.

The Pope urged people to rediscover the prayer of adoration and to pray for a Church “composed of women and men breaking like bread for all those who gnaw loneliness and poverty, for those who hunger for tenderness and Compassion for those whose lives are falling apart because the good leaven of hope has been lacking.”

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The ideal, he said, is “a Church that kneels before the Eucharist and adores with reverence the Lord present in the bread, but which also knows how to bow with compassion and tenderness to the wounds of those who suffer” and become “bread of hope and joy for all”

“For there is no true Eucharistic adoration without compassion for the many ‘Lazaruses’ who still walk beside us today,” he said.

“While we hunger for love and hope or are broken by life’s trials and tribulations, Jesus becomes the food that nourishes and heals us,” he said, and while injustice and discrimination against the poor continue, “Jesus gives us the bread of sharing and sends us out every day as apostles of brotherhood, justice and peace.”

After the Mass, Pope Francis visited the Archdiocese of Matera’s new Mensa della Fraternità, a soup kitchen and social center for the poor and the elderly. The Pope welcomed the employees and blessed the new building, which was completed as a project within the framework of the Eucharistic Congress.