(Vatican Radio) Despite a downpour of rain, thousands of pilgrims and tourists turned out to be with Pope Francis for the Sunday Angelus.
Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report
Before the recitation of the Marian prayer, the Holy Father from the window of his studio above St Peter’s Square, recalled the Gospel reading of the day from John, in which Jesus says, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day ". The Pope noted that the astonishment of the audience at this phrase is understandable.
But Pope Francis explained that, “knowing he will have to die on the cross for us, Jesus identifies himself with the bread broken and shared, and it becomes for him the "sign" of the sacrifice that awaits him.” Communion, the Holy Father said, “is assimilation: eating Him, we become like Him. But this requires our "yes", our adherence of faith.”
Turning his attention to the Mass itself, Pope Francis said that sometimes people are heard to say What is Mass for? I go to church when I feel like it, and I pray better alone. "
But, the Pope stressed, “the Eucharist is not a private prayer or a beautiful spiritual experience.
The Eucharist, said the Holy Father, “ is Jesus who gives himself entirely to us.” Those who feed on Him and abide in Him through Holy Communion and faith, he added, will see their lives transformed as a gift to God and to others.
In conclusion, the Pope recalled Jesus’ words, "He who eats this bread will live forever". He then explained that by living in communion with Jesus on this earth we can look forward to the voice of the Risen Lord who calls us when we finally close our eyes.