“Today, our thoughts also go to September 11 ten years ago. In entrusting the victims of the terrorist attacks on that day and their families to the Lord of Life, I invite the leaders of nations and men of good will to always refuse violence as the solution to problems, to resist the temptation toward hatred and to work in society, inspired by the principles of solidarity, justice and peace”.
On Saturday in a letter to the President of the US bishops’ conference, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, the Holy Father had written about the brutality of the 9/11 attacks that killed almost 3, 000 people and said that nothing can justify terrorism and that what happened is further compounded by the perpetrators’ claim to be acting in the name of God.
His latest appeal resounded across the deep blue of the Adriatic sea, a perfect backdrop to the Sunday liturgy which saw Italy’s biggest shipyard transformed into an open air cathedral. An estimated 100 thousand people drawn from the nations 42 Metropolitan Archdiocese had gathered for the week long congress in Ancona on the theme “The Eucharist for every day life” inspired by the passage from the Gospel of John on Christ’s sermon on the Bread of Life.
In gifting Himself daily in the Eucharist – Pope Benedict said in his homily – God offers us " the path to avoid indifference to the fate of our brothers and sisters, to enter the same logic of love and gift of sacrifice of the Cross". He said : "Those who know how to kneel before the Eucharist, those who receive the body of Christ can not fail to be attentive, in the unfolding of the day, to situations unworthy of man and know firsthand how to bend over the needy, how to break bread with the hungry, how to share water with the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned".
Commenting on the phrase that begins today's Gospel "This is a hard saying," Pope Benedict said that "it is hard because often we confuse freedom with the absence of constraints, in the belief that we can make it alone, without God, seen as a limit to freedom. This is an illusion which soon turns into disappointment, generating fear and anxiety and leading us, paradoxically, to regret the chains of the past: "If only we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt ..." - said the Jews in the desert (Ex 16.3), as we heard. In fact, only in openness to God, in welcoming His gift, do we become truly free, free from the bondage of sin which disfigures the face of man and able to serve the true good of our brothers".
The Pope continued : "It is hard because man often falls into the illusion of being able to "turn stones into bread." After having put God aside, or having tolerated Him as a private choice that should not interfere with public life, certain ideologies have tried to organize society by the force of power and the economy. History dramatically shows us how the goal of ensuring development, material well-being and peace to all, excluding God and his revelation, resulted in people being given stone instead of bread. Bread, dear brothers and sisters, is the "fruit of human hands", and in this truth lies all the responsibilities entrusted to our hands and our ingenuity; but bread is also, and before that, "fruit of the earth ", which receives the sun and rain from above: it is a gift to be asked for, that takes away all of our pride and makes us cry out with the confidence of the humble:" Father (...), give us this day our daily bread "(Matt. 6:11)".
"Man is incapable of giving life by himself, he can only be understood starting from God: it is our relationship with Him, that gives consistency to our humanity and makes our lives good and right. In the Our Father we ask that His name be hallowed, that His kingdom come, that His will is done. Above all else, we must recover the primacy of God in our world and our lives, because it is this very primacy that allows us to recover the truth of who we are, and it is in knowing and following the will of God that we find our true good. Give time and space to God, so that he is the vital centre of our existence. Where to start, as if from the source, to recover and reassert the primacy of God? From the Eucharist: there God draws so close that He becomes food for us, here He becomes strength in the often difficult journey, here He becomes a friendly presence that transforms".
Pope Benedict concluded : "A Eucharistic spirituality, then, is the real antidote to the individualism and selfishness that often characterize daily life, it leads to the rediscovery of gratuity, of the centrality of relationships, starting from the family, with particular attention to healing the wounds of those that are broken. A Eucharistic spirituality is the soul of a church community that goes beyond divisions and conflicts and promotes the diversity of charisms and ministries by placing them in the service of the unity of the Church, its vitality and its mission. Eucharistic spirituality is a way to restore dignity to man’s everyday life and therefore to his work, in the search to reconcile it with times of celebration and family life and with a commitment to overcome the insecurity and uncertainty of the unemployment problem. A Eucharistic spirituality will also help us to draw close to the different forms of human frailty aware that they do not overshadow the value of the person, but require closeness, welcome and help. A renewed educational vitality can draw force from the Bread of life, attentive to witness the fundamental values of existence, of knowledge, of our spiritual and cultural heritage, its vitality will help us live in the city of mankind with the willingness to spend ourselves for the horizon of the common good to build a more just and fraternal world ".