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

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – One cannot love and worship the Eucharist without compassion for the poor and marginalized, Pope Francis said at a Mass concluding Italy’s eucharistic congress.

“Let us recognize that the Eucharist is the prophecy of a new world, it is the presence of Jesus who asks us to dedicate ourselves to an effective conversion,” which includes the conversion from indifference to compassion, from waste to sharing, from selfishness to love and from individualism to fraternity, he said in his homily Sept. 25.

The pope concelebrated the Mass at an outdoor stadium in the southern Italian city of Matera, which was host to Italy’s 27th National Eucharistic Congress Sept. 22-25.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading (Lk 16:19-31), in which Jesus tells the parable about the nameless rich man who “dined sumptuously each day” and ignored the poor man, Lazarus, “who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps.”

Pope Francis holds his crosier as he celebrates the closing Mass of Italy’s National Eucharistic Congress at the municipal stadium in Matera, Italy, Sept. 25, 2022. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

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 creating marginalization.”

All of this, he said, “cannot leave us indifferent.”
The parable talks about the abyss or great chasm that the rich man dug between him and Lazarus when they were alive, so now, “in eternal life, that gulf remains,” the pope said.

One’s eternal destination is determined by one’s earthly life, he said. “If we dig a chasm now,” separating oneself from others, then “we dig our own grave for later; if we raise walls against our brothers and sisters now, we remain imprisoned in loneliness and death later.”

The Eucharist offers a “permanent challenge” to adore and worship God, not oneself, the pope said, and “to put him at the heart” of everything.
“Only the Lord is God, and everything else is a gift of his love,” he said.

“If we worship ourselves, we die, asphyxiated inside our tiny ego; if we worship the riches of this world, they take possession of us and enslave us; if we worship the god of appearance and are inebriated in wastefulness, sooner or later life is going to ask us (to pay) the bill,” Pope Francis said.

“Instead,” he said, “when we adore the Lord Jesus present in the Eucharist, we receive a new way of looking at our lives as well: I am not the things I possess and the successes I am able to achieve; the value of my life does not depend on how much I can show off nor does it diminish when I go through failures and setbacks.”

“Every one of us is a child who is loved” and blessed by God, “who wanted to clothe me with beauty and wants me free from all enslavement,” he said. Those who worship God are free and are slaves to no one, he added.

The pope asked people to rediscover the prayer of adoration and to pray for a church that is “eucharistic, made up of women and men who break themselves like bread for all those who gnaw on loneliness and poverty, for those who are hungry for tenderness and compassion, for those whose lives are crumbling because the good leaven of hope has been lacking.”

The ideal, he said, is “a church that kneels before the Eucharist and worships with awe the Lord present in the bread, but which also knows how to bend down with compassion and tenderness before the wounds of those who suffer” and to become the “bread of hope and joy for all.”